Starting when the news broke, my report grew longer by the minute. It ran, updated in real time, as MSNBC.com’s cover story. I cobbled together eye-witness accounts — my own, those of others from MSNBC and the Associated Press — writing and rewriting as the catastrophe mounted. The lede kept changing throughout the day. It finally morphed into this by the time I quit writing:
NEW YORK, Sept. 11 — It was the scene of a nightmare: people on fire jumping in terror from the two World Trade Center towers just before the buildings collapsed, splinters of debris falling from the sky like surreal confetti, deadly smoke blackening the air and, in the aftermath of the devastation, an exodus of thousands of New Yorkers coated in white ash streaming on foot for hours across the city’s bridges.
Twenty years later I’d rather not reprise all the horrors.