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Port Authority transcripts lack news value

Sept. 4, 2003

Staff editorial

Nearly two years later and the detailed horror of Sept. 11 still lurks in our memories and the news. Now, the media has access to reopen those wounds.

Judge Sybil R. Moses ruled that Port Authority Police Department transcripts of telephone calls and messages sent from within the World Trade Center on Sept. 11 would be released as a result of the lawsuit filed by The New York Times against Port Authority.

But, is there really a need for these frantic conversations from victims? The answer is no; there is no news value in these detailed transcripts for any media to publish.

News value is defined by information that is timely and necessary. The release of this information has neither. The emotional effects of the day's events already have occurred and actions already have been made to move on, so the news value is gone.

The only results that will stem from this court order are a rush to let families know before the shock, people hurrying to get the paper and the still unanswered question of how this kind of tragedy could have happened.

Laurie Tietjen, whose brother died while working for Port Authority, told CNN, 'The only thing this did for me and my family was take away the peace that we worked so hard to get in the past two years. Especially with the anniversary coming up, we should be celebrating their lives, not rehashing their deaths.'

The memory of Sept. 11 is engraved in the news from now on. Memorial services, church gatherings and reminiscence of that day will and should be with us, but the details of a suffering and scared victim in the midst of chaos does not provide answers or any closure to our country's wounds.