There were ceremonies and speeches, but 11 years after the Twin Towers crumbled in a horrifying cloud of smoke, taking with them the lives of more than 2,600 Americans and leaving deep scars on the national psyche, most major news organizations dialed down their coverage of the tragedy's anniversary.
It was a sign, perhaps, that after wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the killing of Osama bin Laden, the terrorist mastermind behind the attacks, more than a decade later, the country (or at least its media) was moving on.
In place of the web specials and exhaustive reports that greeted the tenth anniversary of 9/11 last year, some newspapers, such as the New York Times and the New York Post, did not even carry a story about the occasion on their front pages.
Also read: The 5 Best Ways to Remember 9/11
The New York Times' public editor Margaret Sullivan told readers that the paper's editors had decided that as time passed, coverage of the anniversary would become more "muted." She said the paper needed to balance their responsibility to pay tribute to the victims of the attack with finding a fresh news hook.
" Every year, the anniversary of D-Day, the commemoration of Veterans Day and other important dates cause journalists to try to find the right balance between what readers think is appropriate and necessary and the lack of any actual news to drive the coverage," Sullivan wrote. "Often, other than the local events surrounding an anniversary, there isn’t always much to say that is original. Yet, readers, understandably, want the dates remembered in a substantial way."
Other New York based newspapers, such as Newsday and the Daily News, did have 9/11 themed stories prominently displayed on their front pages — the Wall Street Journal carried a Citi ad that referenced its Ground Zero coverage.
The news networks also showed more restraint. CNN and Fox News covered the ceremonies taking place in Washington D.C. and New York City, while MSNBC repeated its annual tradition of replaying original coverage of 9/11.
Not that the more modulated coverage came without assaults on good taste. While morning shows like ABC's "Good Morning America" and "CBS This Morning" covered a moment of silence to remember when the first plane hit the World Trade Center, NBC's "Today" went ahead with an interview with Kris Jenner, according to TV Newser. During the segment, the Kardashian matriarch discussed the next season of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and her breast implants. On Twitter, viewers were not amused.
Even the political crowd were less involved in the day than they had been in previous years. While President Barack Obama laid a wreath at the Pentagon, where a terrorist-manned plane hit 11 years ago, and Mitt Romney addressed the National Guard, for the first time events at Ground Zero did not include speeches from politicians. Instead, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum said earlier this year that the ceremony would consist of relatives reading victims' names.