Channel One News Hall of Shame: Making a music video of horrific 9/11 images (2001)

August 10, 2012

The article below was originally published on October 19, 2001.


Channel One’s Insensitive Recap of 9/11 For Sixth Graders

[All still pictures are actual images shown on Channel One News.]

Above, children see the first Trade Tower after the plane hit.

From Jim Metrock:

On September 18, one week after the terrible attack on our country, Channel One prepared a “recap” of the week of terror. Morgan Wandell and Jim Morris are the young men responsible for this feature. Using “With Arms Wide Open”, a popular song by the rock band Creed, Channel One made a music video out of horrific images of our national tragedy. Both Wandell and Morris showed a lack of judgment in their selection of film clips to be shown a captive audience of schoolchildren.

The second Tower is shown exploding. We are thankful for small favors from Channel One: they did not show the clip of the airplane as it hit the building.

There is a close-up of the second explosion.

Unnerving images of despair parade before the students. Here a man is running with a baby. A mask or cloth is held tightly against the baby’s face.  Why did Wandell and Morris decide on including this scene? Many children have baby brothers and sisters and they might have been unnecessarily upset with this scene. Channel One’s executives have never shown a deep understanding that their audience is different, much less, special. This is what happens when a school allows this Hollywood company to be the SOLE decision-maker on what images to show on Channel One News.


While the image of the baby was shocking, this scene, which I had not seen anywhere before, breaks my heart. Its a lingering scene of an overwrought police officer or security guard. An adult watching this could be easily brought to tears.  By this time in the Channel One Recap of Terror many children probably put their heads on the desk or turned away from the TV set. Did Channel One want to convince the children that this was an awful thing that happened?  Nobody in this country needed the marketing executives from Channel One to tell us or our children that. Why rub our children’s noses in this awfulness with these gratuitous images?


The students see the first Tower fall and the debris fall to the street. We are not sure how many times Channel One showed this terrible scene over the course of their coverage. Channel One has always been criticized for their refusal to create different news content for children of different ages.  5th grade students (yes, Channel One is shown to some students that young) may not be able to handle what a 13-year-old student might or what an 18 year-old student might. To maximize profits Channel One shows the same editorial content to all students.  Heartless.

Screaming women are shown crouching behind a car as the cloud of death and destruction advances down the street from the Tower collapse. Surely teachers were turning off the Channel One TV sets by this point.

The scene changes as the rock band sings on. The children can only imagine the burning bodies in the Pentagon. This is not the stuff of music videos, no matter how well-intended Channel One’s goals were. Somebody ought to be fired. Better yet, any school that still has Channel One should fire Channel One.

This is part of a scene that shows rescue crews working on people as they lay on the ground. Here an injured person is being carried out. It is hard to tell if a body or a live person is being carried in the background.

What happened on September 11th was beyond tragic. There is no question that this unprecedented disaster posed very difficult problems for Channel One. Obligation has not studied all of Channel One’s coverage of the attacks and their aftermath.  But clearly, in our opinion, this combination of graphic images and rock  music was a bad mistake. Obligation isn’t saying that Channel One intentionally wanted to inflict more emotional damage on children who had already had plenty by September 18. This is just another example of Channel One News  being careless, reckless, and insensitive. This marketing company can’t imagine what a 12 year-old child might be feeling when these images are forced on them at school.

Many parents tried to protect their kids and teenagers from as much of this horror as they could.  They didn’t know that Channel One will show their children whatever they want. Teachers didn’t need Channel One to spark discussion about this national tragedy.  Let’s hope Morgan Wandell and Jim Morris of Channel One get smarter – real quick.


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