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Anniversaries mark progress and the passage of time. They can also conjure memories we may not always want to face. On this anniversary of the September 11 attacks, the Dart Center calls attention to a uniquely eloquent journalistic record of the attacks' long aftermath; to a powerful tenth anniversary essay on personal loss and collective historical memory; and to resources available as we seek to better cover, and understand, the longterm effects of horrific events.
“Living 9/11,” an hourlong audio program, was awarded a 2012 Dart Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma. Click above to hear the program in its entirety. Produced by WNYC and presented by PRX, "Living 9/11" uses interviews with survivors collected over the span of a decade, telling a nuanced and deeply sensitive story about people directly affected by the attack and their struggles to make sense of it. Acknowledging that such a documentary could risk opening old wounds, Dart Award judges noted the “respectful,” “restrained,” and “eloquent” approach to this sensitive and painful memory taken by WNYC's team, many of whom personally witnessed the attacks from Lower Manhattan in 2001.
"Surviving 9/11" was written by psychiatrist Robert J. Lifton and historian Charles B. Strozier on the tenth anniversary of the 2001 attacks on the United States. "For all its potential to reawaken a painful past," they write. "[The anniversary] also moves personal loss into collective historical memory. Something experienced viscerally becomes part of a much broader context. The trauma itself enters this larger sense of time. That can be a painful process but also offers a moment for reflection and the creation of new meanings."
We also highlight resources for journalists connecting 9/11 with the lessons learned from other tragic anniversaries, ranging from Hurricane Katrina to Northern Ireland's Bloody Sunday , and draw attention as well to “Best Practices in Trauma Reporting,” produced by Kevin Kawamoto for the Dart Center, drawn from the first decade of the Dart Awards. "Living 9/11" and the other resources are part of a framework we continue to build upon, whether as journalists, clinicians, educators or citizens, showing how reporting on trauma over time can be done effectively, ethically and powerfully.
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The Dart Center is a project of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.