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CNN's framing of September 11: Suggesting an appropriate response to terrorism
Unformatted Document Text:  17 the general World Trade Center shots mentioned above dominated coverage after about 1 p.m. Given the graphic nature of these images, they effectively showed the devastation and “horror” of the attacks and likely caused a heightened response to what viewers were hearing. Although the images seemed unrelated to the audio in a literal sense, they created a strong sense of urgency and also could have potentially invoked greater fear. CNN almost certainly was not intentionally trying to frighten people, but given the nature of the images that end result seems apparent. This magnification effect was even illustrated in some of the comments that CNN journalists made. For example, at one point CNN analyst Jeff Greenfield suggested that the number of fatalities could approach 20,000. He said his figure was based on both factual information and his impressions from the images he watched throughout the day. The video that CNN aired during this first 12 hours was powerful because the reality of the images was so arousing and overwhelming. It is extremely rare to see footage of an airplane crashing into a skyscraper. Add to that footage the effect of slow- motion or freeze-frame effects and you get a heightened viewer response. 33 It is not as unusual or arousing to see footage of a building collapse because old buildings are often imploded in front of both news and sometimes movie cameras. But, the context of this footage, coupled with the edited series of shots that often followed the shots of the dramatic collapse is what was striking here. CNN continuously “looped” or replayed multiple times a series of edited shots that began with a tower collapse, followed by a shot of the massive debris cloud rolling into the streets, people frantically trying to escape, shots of the ensuing darkness, and ending with shots of debris covered and injured people seeking help from emergency workers. This edited series of shots and

Authors: Reynolds, Amy. and Barnett, Brooke.
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17
the general World Trade Center shots mentioned above dominated coverage after about 1
p.m. Given the graphic nature of these images, they effectively showed the devastation
and “horror” of the attacks and likely caused a heightened response to what viewers were
hearing. Although the images seemed unrelated to the audio in a literal sense, they
created a strong sense of urgency and also could have potentially invoked greater fear.
CNN almost certainly was not intentionally trying to frighten people, but given the nature
of the images that end result seems apparent. This magnification effect was even
illustrated in some of the comments that CNN journalists made. For example, at one
point CNN analyst Jeff Greenfield suggested that the number of fatalities could approach
20,000. He said his figure was based on both factual information and his impressions
from the images he watched throughout the day.
The video that CNN aired during this first 12 hours was powerful because the
reality of the images was so arousing and overwhelming. It is extremely rare to see
footage of an airplane crashing into a skyscraper. Add to that footage the effect of slow-
motion or freeze-frame effects and you get a heightened viewer response.
33
It is not as
unusual or arousing to see footage of a building collapse because old buildings are often
imploded in front of both news and sometimes movie cameras. But, the context of this
footage, coupled with the edited series of shots that often followed the shots of the
dramatic collapse is what was striking here. CNN continuously “looped” or replayed
multiple times a series of edited shots that began with a tower collapse, followed by a
shot of the massive debris cloud rolling into the streets, people frantically trying to
escape, shots of the ensuing darkness, and ending with shots of debris covered and
injured people seeking help from emergency workers. This edited series of shots and


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