By Lee Kamlet
Dean, School of Communications
The other day, I was looking back at some clips from the first hours of coverage of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. I was preparing some material for our teach-in on Sept. 8 at 2 p.m. in the Mancheski Executive Seminar Room in the Lender School of Business Center about the media and terrorism, then and now.
The video is obviously disturbing, and brings back some harsh memories. I was working at DATELINE NBC. I went to the NBC gym that morning and was on the treadmill when the first report came in that a plane might have hit one of the twin towers at the World Trade Center.
I was showered, dressed and downstairs in the DATELINE conference room within minutes.
Much of that morning remains something of a blur. I remember at one point we evacuated the offices, because someone reported smelling natural gas. I also remember that a number of my colleagues and I went to a nearby electronics store, and bought every small video camera we could get our hands on.
By that time, the “all clear” was sounded at the DATELINE offices, and I spent the rest of the day in an editing room watching in horror as camera feeds from Ground Zero, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Penn., came in. Throughout the day, colleagues who had been near the towers at the time of the attacks, and the buildings’ ultimate collapse, came in covered with dust, describing the unimaginable things they had witnessed.
I did not leave the office for two days.
My starkest memory is what I saw when I finally went home on the third day. I was crossing Fifth Avenue to get to Grand Central Station to catch a train, when I suddenly realized that it was 8 p.m. on an early fall evening, and there were NO cars driving down Fifth Avenue – and it was deathly quiet. No car horns blaring. No people talking.
And I remember thinking at the time, that life as we know it had changed forever.
Categories: School of Communications