Sep 052006
Authors: Hilary Davis The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Editors note: Sept. 11, 2001, was a day that impacted Americans everywhere, and fallout from that day continues to change us every day. The Collegian has contacted several professors to see how the day has changed their area of study. Below is one story of several.

Joe Champ

Professor of Journalism

HD: How has Sept. 11 and the aftermath of the last five years changed your field?

JC: Your question is how all this has changed media. I really don’t see it as bringing about huge change. . Informing and providing a meaningful space has been the role of media for many years . dating back to Edward R. Murrow’s radio reports during the German bombings on London during World War II, and I’m sure before. Also, it didn’t change the structure of news coverage . especially on television. The 24/7 cable/satellite TV news hole existed prior to Sept. 11, 2001. 9/11 coverage really helped to fill that for a long time.

As far as meaning, I think something meaningful and profound took place during and shortly after Sept. 11, when we realized the fragility of life . how much our way of life means to us. All media did a good job presenting this raw emotion . and feeling. . But since then, I have been disappointed with coverage in the mainstream news media.

HD: How do you see your field evolving over the next five to 10 years, and will these changes be as a result of Sept. 11?

JC: Mainstream news media will continue to present information, . mainstream news media will continue to provide a meaningful space, . mainstream news media will continue to support what most of the people in the country believe . until general public opinion changes, and then mainstream news media will reflect that change, . they won’t be in the vanguard. You see, mainstream news outlets are businesses run by increasingly centralized corporations. They have to be very careful nowadays not to stray too far away from mainstream opinion, or they will lose valuable subscribers and advertisers. There are exceptions to this . and they are the heroes in our field.

HD: Do you think an event like Sept. 11 will happen again?

JC: It will if we continue to try to fight might with might . and fail to continue talking and share understanding with those who oppose us. I don’t see the mainstream news media being able to make a difference in this. Again, the cutting edge ideas will come from non-mainstream cultural groups and media.

HD: In a world where globalization is growing, do you believe terrorist attacks will continue or eventually end?

JC: Again, it depends upon how long we continue to refuse to understand that there are people out there with different ideas than ours . they may not be ideas we agree with . but they are their ideas . and they aren’t going anywhere . and we can’t bomb them out of existence – even in so-called ‘surgical strikes!’ We need to understand what they believe.and look at our own beliefs . and keep talking with those who are willing to listen. Maybe then we’ll both learn something and we’ll all figure out that it’s not worth killing each other. But sadly, we are a long, long, long way from that scenario.

Staff writer Hilary Davis can be reached at

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