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Commentary in 'extras' and then some. (Sept11 How members responded).

Like many other newspapers across the country, The Arizona Republic published a number of special sections devoted to the terrorist attack on America during the week of Sept. 11. Something that set the Republic apart from many of those special sections, however, was the amount of space devoted to commentary.

We decided that it is at times of crisis that people most desire and most need perspective, context, help in sorting through the horror of events around them to discern what it all means. Accordingly, the 12-page Arizona Republic Extra Edition that hit the streets by 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11, included a page of live commentary.

The following day, the 24-page special section that wrapped the A section included four live commentary pages. That section was updated midday and republished that afternoon, again with four commentary pages in it. On Thursday, the 16-page special section had three commentary pages, as did the 12-page special section on Friday, and the 10-page special on Saturday. On Sunday, the newsroom published a 10-page special section regarding the attack and our six-page commentary section, Viewpoints, was devoted to the attack.

That's close to twice our normal page production (and we had a staffer out of the country on vacation!). But we were determined to provide the very best service possible to our readers. Here's a summary of what we did:

For the Extra Edition: The Republic decided early on the morning of Sept. 11 to publish an Extra Edition to hit the streets by 3 p.m. Copy deadline: 10:30 a.m. On the commentary page was:

* A live editorial written largely by assistant editorial page editor Phil Boas that began: "You will never forget Sept. 11, 2001. Your world changed profoundly Today, the 20th Century finally ended." ABC's Peter Jennings quoted a portion of it that night. Editorial writer Doug MacEachern crafted the last paragraph, which CNN scrolled across its live coverage throughout the evening. (Our publisher saw it from her hotel room in France.) It read: "This much we know: In the past, America has reacted to attacks among its citizens with a grim sense of purpose. Despite all the ways that our lives are different this day, there is no reason to believe that resolve has changed."

* A live column by editorial columnist Ricardo Pimentel suggesting that the right response should be motivated by justice not vengeance. (Ironically, Ricardo had been at the airport that morning waiting for a flight to Washington when the airport was closed in reaction to the attack. He learned of the attack on a car radio enroute to the office.)

* A live cartoon by Steve Benson featuring the Statue of Liberty with a hole through her heart. He started drawing it at 9:30 a.m.

* Two of the of letters to the editor we began receiving immediately via e-mail.

For subsequent special sections: By midday Tuesday, we were planning ahead.

* Doug crafted a new editorial for Wednesday headlined, "It's time to show the world our mettle." We had fresh editorials on the topic through Sunday.

* Phil e-mailed a question to the editorial page's standing 40-member Public Pulse readers panel: "What is your reaction to Tuesday's terrorism and what does it bode for our country?" (This is a rotating, diverse, panel of readers. We have photos and bios of them all.) By midafternoon, we had responses from several of the panelists. We picked the best six and ran them on Wednesday, with photos and bios of each respondent.

* Phil e-mailed a question to our Your Voices electronic newsletter: "How should the United States react to these terrorist attacks?" (This is a list of nearly 1,000 self-subscribers. We don't have photos or bios of these people.) By midafternoon, we had enough responses for a Your Voices panel on Wednesday.

* Steve crafted an endless string of cartoons all week -- on one day we ran two of them. I think his best was of the Twin Towers tipping and falling into the harbor at an angle reminiscent of the sinking of the Arizona at Pearl Harbor, and above the attacking planes are the words "Terror, Terror, Terror."

* Editorial writer Joel Nilsson solicited My Turn columns from local Arab and Jewish leaders, as well as Arizona's congressional delegation. In Wednesday's paper we had a column by a local Palestinian leader who had been a delegate to the Middle East peace talks. On Thursday, we published a My Turn by Dr. M.K. Jasser, a Phoenix cardiologist born in Syria, titled, "These ungodly acts are anathema to Islam." Later in the week we published columns from local Jewish leaders and from a Muslim-American student attending the University of Arizona in Tucson who describes fleeing to her family in Mesa (a Phoenix suburb) in fear of racial retaliation on campus because of her" tan-colored skin."

* Reader advocate Richard deUriarte solicited My Turns from local terrorism experts at Arizona State University and the American Graduate School of International Business.

* Assistant editorial page editor Ken Western scrolled the wires for the very best mix of commentary He also collected 200-word reactions to the crisis from editorial board members and put together an "editorial roundtable" of reaction with photos of each participating board member. Editorial writer Linda Valdez wrote a column about having visited New York City the previous month with her 10-year-old daughter and skipping the World Trade Center, figuring it would be there to see on their next trip to the Big Apple.

Reader reaction:

* The Opinions directory on got more page views than any other during the week that ended Sept. 14. More people read Benson cartoons, editorials, columns, and letters to the editor than read stories and columns in any section of the paper -- news, sports, features or business.

* Eight of the top 10 "stories" visited during that same week on were from the editorial page's arsenal. Six of the eight were Benson cartoons. An editorial and a specially solicited My Turn column finished #3 and #9 for the week, respectively The editorial, dated Sept. 13, was titled: "If war it is, declare it, fight it." The My Turn, published the same day, was Syrian American Dr. Jasser's.

* We received 958 total letters to the editor for the week - 659 of them on the terrorist attack. That's a record. (The next closest was 894 in the week after last fall's Florida Fiasco of an election.) On Monday, Sept. 17, we processed another 704 Letters to the Editor via e-mail, fax, and snail mail from the weekend, 623 of them on the terrorist attacks. The Monday processing took more than seven hours. For the week ending Sept. 21, we received 1,383 letters -- another record and triple what we receive in a typical week. Of those, 1,084 were on the terrorist attack.

NCEW member Keven Willey is editorial page editor of The Arizona Republic.



We may have forgotten over the past half-century of relative comfort, but we Americans have done this kind of thing before. We have done it with grace and determination and honor...

We must keep in mind that many things have changed in the past few days....We as a people have become serious about what is and is not important. What is first on the list is that we maintain as best we can the open democratic society our terrorist adversaries abhor absolutely. Its very functioning is a daily reminder and reproach to them that they have won nothing, that they have merely wounded us and set our hearts and minds on their destruction.

We know something about sacrifice. We mounted a worldwide fight against evil and its allies 60 years ago. It took years of sacrifice of lives and treasure before a monster would kill himself in a ruined bunker in Berlin. One hundred forty years ago, our population was set against itself to assure that the nation itself would survive and to assure that one-eighth of our people who had been held in bondage could be free Americans...

The events that bring us to this moment in time are unique, but the situation is not...

We are Americans. We shall endure. We shall prevail. God bless America.

Star Ledger, Newark, New Jersey, written by Richard Are good, editorial page editor


Just as the Sept. 11 attacks have led Americans to take a closer look at the Muslims and citizens of Arab descent among us, they have provoked the United States to re-examine its Middle East policy. Chances are good that few of the Christians, Jews, Hindus and others who gathered at the Islamic community's center in Port Charlotte ever expected to meet in a mosque. They gathered as part of Study Circles, a national program of discussion groups on vital issues sponsored locally by the Herald-Tribune.

Members of the mosque, which had been vandalized following the terrorist attacks, opened their lace of worship in an effort to gain more understanding from a community that has largely ignored them. Eyes were opened Monday. Participants learned illuminating facts about Muslims and Americans of Arab descent, many of whom have lived in this country for decades:

* An Islamic place of worship at the World Trade Center towers was destroyed in the conflagration that may have claimed more than 6,000 lives.

* More Arab Americans are Christian than Muslim.

* Muslims share Christians' and Jews' respect for the prophets of the Bible.

Small facts, but paving stones on the road to a better under standing of people in our society who have often been over looked, shunned or misunderstood.

Sarasota Herald-Tribune, written by James Abraham, editorial writer


U.S. must root out enemy of democracy

If December 7, 1941 ,is a date that lives in infamy, what will be said of today?

Americans watched in disbelief and outrage this morning at the unfolding attack on our country, monstrous in its magnitude and dastardly in its ingenious deceptiveness.

Within a few minutes, commercial airplanes filled with Americans were hijacked apparently by terrorists and became tools of destruction that struck the Pentagon, our nation's center of defense in Washington, D.C., and the World Trade Center towers, a symbol of our nation's financial strength. Our nation will never be the same....

Surely, whatever enemy -- foreign or domestic -- is behind this affront to democracy didn't think America would collapse as easily as the World Trade Center towers did. Surely, the architects didn't think we would see the destruction of these symbols of our nation, not to mention the murders of the innocents in the air or on the ground, and not respond with steely resolve.

Surely, they don't know who they're dealing with....

We will not be defeated -- not in force and not in spirit.

Tri-City Herald, southeastern Washington, by Kate Riley, editorial page editor


First there was the World Trade Center bombing eight years ago. Though it was a frightening assault that took six lives and injured more than a thousand people, the 1993 attack could have been so much worse. Two years later came Oklahoma City. But it turned out that the horrible attack on the Alfred Murrah Federal Building was the work of an angry young American, and the nation could take some small comfort that its sovereign soul was not under assault by foreign terrorists. That apparently all changed today, a beautiful sunny morning in America that turned dark with smoke and death....Indeed, as the morning gave way to midday, nobody could be sure that this carefully calculated terrorist attack had run its course....Today's attacks, however, paint an entirely new face -- a terribly ugly face -- on the specter of terrorism. Clearly the evil minds that plotted this assault of horror had planned with great care, reportedly hijacking commercial airplanes -- early reports said the planes had taken off from Boston and Dulles Airport outside Washington. It was almost as though the targets were hit in sequence to maximize worldwide exposure via CNN.... Our nation's largest city and our nation's capital are indeed at great risk, as are we all, when zealots with no regard for their own lives or anyone else's are set on destruction. Sept. 11,2001. It will be forever remembered as the darkest day in the history of the United States.

The Blade, Toledo, Ohio, Sept. 11, by Tom Walton, editorial page editor


Evil strikes

Never tell us us there is no such thing as evil in the world. It blares forth from us in the early morning, awakening the nation like a black sun. Its works are there in the ash-covered streets of Manhattan, in the center of the nation's capital, in the strewn wreckage of a plane somewhere outside Pittsburgh, in the panicky calls and collapsed technology of cell phones and the robotic answering-machine voice that says only, again and again:" All circuits are busy now, please cry your call later."

Evil has struck, and you can hear its echoes in the wail of sirens and see it in the disciplined rush of hospital emergency rooms, in the ululations of bloodthirsty crowds in the Middle East celebrating their macabre victory, and in the jumbled thoughts of a nation now going from shock and horror to utter, calm, focused determination....

Across the harbor from the twin towers that are no more, away from the screeching sirens and hospital emergency rooms, the Statue of Liberty still holds her torch aloft, and if you look closely, you can see the eyes narrow, the great hand clench into a mighty fist: Liberty Aroused. Al ready the inexpressible anger felt by every citizen of the Republic begins to concentrate itself in a cold, useful, organized fury. We will bury the dead, tend the injured, solace the mourners, and clear away the only material losses. But we will not rest till justice is done, no matter how long it takes, so help us God.

Arkansas Democrat

Gazette Sept.12,

Paul Greenberg
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Author:Willey, Keven
Publication:The Masthead
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 22, 2001
Previous Article:Columnists fired for criticism: Opinion writers roasted for expressing... opinions. (Symposium Terrorism and civil liberties).
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