September 11 taught us a new vocabulary of terror a post-apocalyptic
lexicon, full of alien phrases like "sterilizing the sky"
(enforcing a no-fly zone), "blowback" (CIA argot for unintended
consequences of a particularly nasty nature), and "frozen zone"
(the eerie, ash-covered underworld south of Canal Street, in Manhattan).
At the same time, it resurrected a phrase that until last week seemed
as quaintly obsolete as those duck-and-cover safety films from the
cold-war era: ground zero.
Now, ground zero has a horrible new meaning: the spot
where, shortly before and after nine on September 11, time stopped.
As the world now knows, hijackers sent two jetliners screaming into
the World Trade Center, in New York City. Within 90 minutes, this
towering monument to a citys chutzpah and a superpowers
confidence in its economic might (and engineering genius) had collapsed
into a fiery hell pit of burning rubble and onrushing, engulfing
smoke. Some of the buildings 50,000 inhabitants leapt from
their windows; others are unaccounted for, perhaps clinging to life
(their relatives hope) in a pocket of air beneath the tons of debris
that mark the skyscrapers graves.
Dispatches from Ground Zero is the NYU Department of
Journalisms report on, and response to, the real-life nightmare
we all woke up to on the morning of September 11 a morning
that was, in pilots parlance, severe clear. It
features eyewitness accounts of the attack and its aftermath, links
to online resources that shed light on aspects of the story that
have gone unexamined by the media, and reportage, opinion pieces
and cultural commentary by NYU students and faculty.
Its our hope that, beyond its obvious journalistic purpose,
Dispatches will help reassemble the fragments of this
horrific event into something more meaningful, a bigger truth.
Mark Dery, Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism and Mass
Jay Rosen, Professor and Chair, Department of Journalism and Mass