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 city’s chutzpah and a superpower’s 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 Journalism’s 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 pilot’s 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. It’s 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

Faculty Advisors

Mark Dery, Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism and Mass Communications, NYU
Jay Rosen, Professor and Chair, Department of Journalism and Mass Communications, NYU

Faculty Editors

Managing Editor

Mary D'Ambrosio


Mary Hickey
Kostya Kennedy
Jessica O'Brien
Lisa Silver

Production Staff

Technical design

John Biggs

Graphic design

Samantha Bong