September 11 Attacks


The MediaSpy staff have decided with the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks approaching, it would be appropriate to have a discussion thread of the Australian coverage of the terror attacks in 2001.

In the past, we have closed the main TV history thread around this time of the year as we’ve had to deal with what the team call ‘Disaster porn’, where everyone gets a little too excited and forgets that 3,000 people died that day and set off a subsequent never-ending war that killed many more. All we ask is that while you discuss the coverage, please be a little respectful.

This will be the only opportunity to discuss the coverage, after this year the thread will be locked and act as an archival read-only thread - only opened if new vision emerges.

This topic will open September 10, 2021.


This topic was automatically opened after 35 hours.

It was almost a year after I finished school, I was at TAFE studying IT and I just got home from a late class,just climbed into bed, and heard Bruce Mansfield announcing a plane had hit the World Trade Centre, the story just got worse, so I clicked on the TV, and saw the pictures and was gobsmacked.

Tuned into 3AW the following morning and heard, if I remember correctly Steve Price on air, regular programming had largely been suspended.

Went into TAFE for an afternoon class, and he basically just watched the CNN coverage for most, if not all of the class time, none or very little work, got done.

Back at home I visited my neighbours, we all sat behind the ABC coverage shellshocked and got angry when vision of the Palestinians shooting their guns in the air.


Network 10 was the first to start coverage in Australia.

Sandra Sully presented the bulletin as live pictures came in.


A couple of compiles I made from vision recorded while watching the events unfold that night.

At the time, I think viewers in Australia, at a distance were quicker to comprehend that this was a terror attack. Sandra Sully made the call fairly early. It took a while for US coverage to accept this, but then there was a third and then a fourth plane down and we started to hear about Al-Qaeda for the first time.


My parents told me about this, they were waiting for Sports Tonight as a footy coach had been sacked. Sports Tonight never came on.

1 Like

I now remember it was indeed Sandra Sully when I put the TV on, had some memory fade.

3AW from memory had Steve Price in studio with I think Darren James and Tony Leonard who were doing one of their fill in stints for Ross and John. Neil Mitchell was involved at some point too.

1 Like

Sports Tonight was about to go to air at 11.00pm but never did due to rolling coverage.


i will be recording the ch10 9/11 special tomorrow night


I remember Sandra Sully anchoring the coverage when it first broke through in W.A (I am sure it was on delay) . How long did she stay on air for before Ten switched coverage ? I can’t remember I was sixteen at the time

She put all the other networks to shame .

1 Like

Rove Live was on when the news broke in WA. Talking Footy didn’t went to air on 7.


Ahh that’s about right.

1 Like

Karl interviewed John Howard and Ali interviewed Steve Liebmann and 9 News cameraman Andy Felton.


I don’t have too much to contribute here but I remember turning on Ten in the morning before school (Year 1) expecting the usual cartoons and turning off back off after seeing that they weren’t on.

One thing that I would find interesting is the timeline of each network breaking into programming for coverage and who was hosting.

As far as I can tell it was:
Ten: Sandra Sully (as Ten Late News) - already on air
ABC: Tony Jones (as Lateline) - ?? there was a video posted somewhere recently of the start of this coverage
NBN: Jodi McKay (as NBN Late Edition) - approx. 11:20PM


The SMH had a decent rundown of how things were seen in Sydney (and likely, all markets in the AEST timezone) in the September 17 edition of The Guide, complimenting their massive “A day in the life of National Nine News Sydney” feature piece which was likely done in Early September.

In summary: Ten broke the story first followed by Nine, Seven, the ABC and SBS in that order.


I’m surprised there’s no public copy of 10’s full coverage that night - there’s a bunch on YouTube but the audio’s broken. I think Sully said she didn’t want it released though.

I think NBN was before Nine - the only regional network that had at some form of original coverage I presume?


This was pretty much me. I still remember to this day waking up the next morning expecting Cheeze tv to be on and instead all I saw was the twin towers on fire. And what made it even worse every channel was showing the coverage. There were no cartoons that morning :disappointed_relieved: :cry:


ABC and Ten didn’t had children’s programming with Cheez TV and ABC For Kids (Mixy Presents) bumped for continuing coverage

Get Connected: Like us on Facebook | Follow us on Twitter