wrote about it because, well, I had to. It was my way of making sense of the tragedy, if there was such a thing as making sense. And as the story became a bigger story and then an historic one, it traveled throughout the world through a still young Internet news cycle, affecting everyone, it seemed, on the planet.
Since then, the news cycle has morphed into a monster, crushing us with more news than we know what to do with. And this past week, its influence on a once obscure Florida minister seems almost greater than the book on which he says his faith is based. From the media monster, he somehow came to believe that all Muslims were related to those who flew into the Towers, and that they needed a warning in the form of a torch to their holy book. As if burning sacred paper would fight terrorists.
In part, I blame the tsunami of information that crashes against our eyeballs daily for the bizarre conclusion the minister drew. After all, with an instant click, we can watch from our laptops an Islamic community in Indonesia respond with equal stubbornness. We can instantly access blogs, news sites, stories, videos, podcasts and tweets all spouting what's wrong with the world. Today's news media makes for easier and quicker reading than, say, the Bible or Quran. In fact, today's news cycle no longer competes with the minister; it IS the minister, often providing people with the 'meaning' and purpose they need to live their lives, much in the way the Good Book once did.
Certainly, the immediacy of the news on Sept. 11 nine years ago was a service to many trying to understand the horror. But since then, the agenda-driven 'info-tainment' that's replaced much authentic journalism has done little to serve or encourage the public good. Its mission instead seems not to report the truth but to attack it, reduce it and debate it. Surely there must be a better way to fight.