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Image: World Trade Center on fire on Sept. 11, 2001
Patrick Sison  /  AP file
Television viewers who want to immerse themselves in memories of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as the 10th anniversary approaches will have a staggering number of choices, and on the day itself, broadcast and cable news networks will all have their top talent on hand for special coverage.
updated 9/4/2011 10:12:27 PM ET 2011-09-05T02:12:27

Television viewers who want to immerse themselves in memories of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as the 10th anniversary approaches will have a staggering number of choices, and on the day itself, broadcast and cable news networks will all have their top talent on hand for special coverage.

There will be dozens of specials covering the events from every conceivable angle. Many are from networks that either didn't exist back in 2001, didn't have the capacity to cover the tragedy live or weren't aggressively making as much original programming.

Chances are that the 10th will end up being the biggest anniversary in terms of media attention: 9/11 is still relatively fresh in the minds of those who experienced it, yet time has also offered more perspective.

"It was a transformative event," said Mark Burstein, executive producer of special events coverage for ABC News. "This was an event that everyone who was over the age of 10 remembers where they were on this day. It changed millions of lives. I'm not surprised that 10 years later the world will stop and look back and remember."

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Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos will anchor ABC's special the morning of Sept. 11, with coverage of the memorial mixed in with other reports. Brian Williams will anchor NBC's coverage, simulcast on MSNBC, which will also feature Tom Brokaw, who anchored for NBC a decade ago. Scott Pelley is on hand for CBS.

Story: Kids of 9/11 get a voice as 10th anniversary looms

Shepard Smith of Fox News Channel is the only anchor who led his network's coverage 10 years ago and will be back in the same role. Anderson Cooper and Candy Crowley will be at ground zero for CNN, in a telecast that will be shown all over the world.

The historical nature of the event merits the amount of coverage being offered, said David Westin, former ABC News president. Viewers will have to decide for themselves how much is too much for them personally, he said.

"People can become too immersed in it and I've been particularly concerned about children," he said. "All of us need to be concerned about children and how they can process it."

Nickelodeon's Linda Ellerbee will anchor a special on Sept. 1 addressed to the network's young audience. It will largely be an explainer: Most of Nick's audience either wasn't alive on Sept. 11, 2001, or was too young to have any direct memories.

In the days after the attacks, Westin, on the advice of a prominent child psychologist, ordered his news division to strictly curtail reruns of the more disturbing images: the second plane crashing in to the World Trade Center; the collapse of the towers. The concern was that children couldn't process that they were reruns, and might think the tragedy was happening again elsewhere. Other news divisions largely followed suit.

Because of that judicious usage, people have not become desensitized to the pictures from that awful day, said Jay Wallace, Fox News Channel vice president of news.

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On the anniversary each year, Fox replays a segment of its coverage from the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, and will again this year. Wallace said it was important to remind people what it was like.

"We put that away," he said. "We don't use it as b-roll (background pictures) any other time of year. But we try to put that in context and remind people of what went on that day, the raw emotions that people were feeling."

At CBS, the Sunday morning coverage will focus on the public memorials, said CBS News President David Rhodes.

"It's an emotional day," he said. "You don't know how people are going to react. That's one reason we are going to be careful not to over-program it."

Meanwhile, 3,000 hours of global TV broadcasts during seven days of coverage in 2001 are available at The 9/11 Television News Archive.

Here's an outline of scheduled programming independent of the Sunday morning memorial coverage. Note that several of the telecasts will be shown repeatedly, so check local listings:

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September 6

  • "Top Secret America," PBS. Journalist Dana Priest examines how a decade of fighting terrorism has changed the country.
  • "Footnotes of 9/11," CNN. Profiles eight people mentioned in the footnotes of the 9/11 Commission report about what happened to them on Sept. 11.

September 7

  • "Terror in the Dust," CNN. Dr. Sanjay Gupta discusses health concerns of people who spent time at ground zero.
  • "American Greed: 9/11 Fraud," CNBC. About the lengths people go to steal money at a time of tragedy.
  • "Engineering Ground Zero," PBS. About construction at the World Trade Center site.
  • "Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero," PBS. Rerun of "Frontline" report about how the attacks affected religious faith.

September 8

  • "Beyond Bravery: The Women of 9/11," CNN. Profiles female rescue workers at the World Trade Center.

September 9

  • "9/11: Timeline of Terror," Fox News Channel. Shows how the events of Sept. 11 happened in real time.
  • "Beyond 9/11: Portraits of Resilience," CNN. Tells stories of 40 people who led and sacrificed in the hours and weeks after the attacks.
  • "Dateline NBC," NBC. Two-hour special with NBC anchor Tom Brokaw reviewing the attacks and talking to some people he interviewed a decade earlier.
  • "9/11: The Days After," History. Documenting the aftermath of the attacks.
  • "Voices From Inside the Towers," History. Stories about people trapped in the World Trade Center, using audio records.

September 10

  • "On Native Soil," MSNBC. Documentary narrated by Kevin Costner and Hilary Swank about the 9/11 Commission.

September 11

  • "9/11: 10 Years Later," CBS. Rerun of insider's account at World Trade Center, freshened with new interviews with people involved. Robert De Niro returns as host.
  • "America Remembers: 9/11," PBS. Evening recap with "NewsHour" team examining the impact of Sept. 11 in different communities.
  • "The New York Philharmonic 10th Anniversary Concert for 9/11," PBS. Remembrance concert.
  • "Remembrance and Renewal: Ten Years After the 9/11 Attacks," ABC. Evening special looking back on the anniversary and aftermath of attacks.
  • "The Making of the 9/11 Memorial," History. Behind-the-scenes view of the memorial from idea to construction.
  • "102 Minutes That Changed America," History. Rerun of documentary, starting at precise anniversary of when the first plane hit the World Trade Center.
  • "The Space Between," USA. Film with actress Melissa Leo portraying a stewardess on a plane ground on 9/11 who travels across the country with a 10-year-old boy whose father worked at the World Trade Center.
  • "Twin Towers," USA. Academy Award-winning documentary about brothers, a New York City police officer and firefighter, killed on Sept. 11.
  • "9/11: In Our Own Words," MSNBC. NBC News anchors and correspondents recall what they were doing on Sept. 11.
  • "Rebirth," Showtime. Documentary tracks the lives of five people whose lives were changed by Sept. 11, along with using time-lapse photography to show how ground zero has changed.
  • "Slammin' Iron," HDNet. Documentary on Mohawk Indian ironworkers helping to rebuild the World Trade Center.
  • "Dan Rather Remembers," HDNet. Former CBS anchor reports on how the world has changed in 10 years.
  • "Loose Change," HDNet. Controversial documentary asserting attacks were part of government conspiracy, along with "Conspiracy Files: 9/11 Ten Years On," a BBC production investigating the claims and response to "Loose Change."

Will you be watching any Sept. 11 specials? Share your thoughts on the Facebook page for our TV blog The Clicker.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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