Covering the War

The news media reacted initially to the terrorist attacks of September 11 with great care about not getting ahead of the facts, but over time the press is inching back toward pre-September 11th norms of behavior, according to a new study of press coverage of the war on terrorism. In the beginning, solid sourcing and factualness dominated the coverage of bombings and their aftermath, according to the study, conducted by the Project for Excellence in Journalism with Princeton Survey Research Associates. As the story moved to the war in Afghanistan, however, analysis and opinion swelled -- so much so that the level of factualness declined to levels lower than those seen in the middle of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal.