While America Slept: Coverage of Terrorism from 1993 to September 11, 2001

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January 1, 2002, 4:20 pm
By Matthew V. Storin

A paper by Matthew V. Storin, spring 2002 fellow, considers whether American news outlets utterly failed to prepare the public for the trauma of 9/11, or raised at least some flags of caution. The research spans an eight-and-a-half-year period from the bombing of the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993, through the coverage of September 10, 2001, concentrating on The New York Times and The Washington Post. The research led Storin to the following findings: The glaring weakness of both newspapers was their inattention to the underlying causes of terrorism and scant coverage of frustrations within the Islamic world. Generally, the newspapers did solid reporting on the growing threat of international terrorism against targets within American borders, though it was done inconsistently, and without elevating the story to levels of urgency achieved by some other contemporaneous issues, e.g. security at the Los Alamos Nuclear Center in New Mexico.

Download the paper (PDF).