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Media plan a low-key Sept. 11

Second-anniversary coverage will be limited, understated

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When Americans retrieve their newspapers a week from Thursday, on the second anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, they will find various articles and photographs coinciding with the milestone. But little is planned on the scale of the thick free-standing commemorative sections that were published last September.

If they tune into ABC television that day, they may note that "Good Morning America" coverage of a memorial ceremony at ground zero soon gives way to regular programming, including episodes of "General Hospital" and "All My Children," soap operas that were pre-empted last year by news coverage that ran virtually uninterrupted from dawn until midnight.

On the evening of Sept. 10, CBS intends to rebroadcast a one-hour interview with President Bush that was first shown as part of last year's programming.

But CBS News, like NBC News, has few other plans for the anniversary this year, beyond coverage of events like the service at ground zero.

Indeed, viewers seeking an immersive revisiting of that awful day in 2001 may want to turn to a fictional reconstruction. On Sunday, four nights before the anniversary, the cable channel Showtime will broadcast an original, two-hour docudrama, "DC 9/11: Time of Crisis," starring the actor Timothy Bottoms as Bush.

Virtually every media company — including the major television networks and the leading publishers of newspapers, weekly magazines and books — is planning to commemorate the terrorist attacks in some fashion, but in most cases with more limited and understated offerings than they put forth last year. The reasons they cite are primarily emotional — the sense that many people would prefer not to spend much time in reflection this year.

Meanwhile, relatively few of the books related to Sept. 11 that were published last year — the trade journal Publishers Weekly counted nearly 300 of them — were deemed commercially successful.