& cplSiteName &

A Sept. 11 Reflection

Phil Harvey
9/9/2011

1:35 PM -- Light Reading never closed.

That's really my memory of Sept. 11, 2001. My colleagues in the Manhattan office, just a few blocks from the Twin Towers, a few blocks from those suffering at the center of Hell; I was a thousand miles away in Texas with two TVs on and a radio in my ear trying to figure out what to do next. Every morning since I hop out of bed a little earlier than I used to and I listen to the news.



My friend and former editor Paul Kapustka was in Atlanta on Sept. 11 covering, of all damn things, the Networld + Interop conference. With planes grounded and air travel halted over the next few days, Paul filed a couple of stories, said, "screw all," rented a car and pointed it toward his Burlingame home. For five days it was just Kaps, a Mazda 6 and a lot of open road.



If you happened to see our website that horrible day -- and the next, and the next -- you saw that the Light Reading team, including those in downtown Manhattan, kept writing. We kept commenting. We kept answering the phones and passing along anything we helpful we could, even though we were (and still are) woefully ill-equipped to be offering perspectives on national security threats.



I took a couple of calls that day that started with people crying into the phone. No hello. No "How dare you say that about my company!" Just sobbing. One call wasn't from a friend or coworker, just a reader who knew where our headquarters was on Leonard Street, feared the worst and needed to say something to someone. And my phone was still working.



Throughout Sept. 11 and the days that followed I spoke with Steve Saunders and Peter Heywood -- the founders of Light Reading -- and Scott Raynovich -- Light Reading's last editor-in-chief -- about what had happened and what should happen next. I never thought for a second that Light Reading would cease operations. And if I've never said what it was like working with that group during that strange time, here's the short version: When the world was at its worst, they were at their best. Period.



So, anyway, we never closed and though we couldn't bring you the images, video and visceral coverage that other outlets could, we do have a modest list of articles, newswires and a special column you should read, if you're so inclined to relive some part of Sept. 11, 2001.



It struck me how, a decade later, the message board -- the 400-plus comments readers left following our first post-attack story -- is still a raw nerve. This site was the first to let this industry speak its mind and that feistiness, that water-cooler vibe, is preserved in these stories. Fair warning: We didn't patrol the boards that carefully on that horrifying week. Be aware there might be some salty language and some real donkeys in that message pile. But there are some gems in there, too, and those mean a lot to me because they came from you, the ones that keep us going.



My hope is that you'll use this board or one of the ones attached to the stories below to say hello and, if you were reading this site on that day, remind us what you did that day and share whatever you like. (Well, within reason. No donkeys, please.) If you have never left us a video comment, we'd love for you to do that, too. It is nice to put a face to the name.



What kept me going during the eerie, soul-crushing weeks that followed Sept. 11 was the connection to some purpose. Then, like now, the obligation to help you get through your day is what helps me get through mine. It's a joy as much as an obligation and I'm glad I'm here and that you still consider us a valuable part of your day.



It hurts to look back. But I'm glad we never closed.



— Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

(15)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Steve Saunders
Steve Saunders
12/5/2012 | 4:54:19 PM
re: A Sept. 11 Reflection


blind panic is our speciality 


you should post this to the UBM wiki, also 


 

DCITDave
DCITDave
12/5/2012 | 4:54:19 PM
re: A Sept. 11 Reflection


Thanks for reading, Steve. And thanks for being there. Folks reading this should know I still call you in a blind panic every now and then.  :)


 

Steve Saunders
Steve Saunders
12/5/2012 | 4:54:19 PM
re: A Sept. 11 Reflection


Great blog Phil, and thank you for sharing your reflections on the day.  


Ten years later it's great to see the same qualities in evidence at LR today.


-Steve Saunders


 


 

cnwedit
cnwedit
12/5/2012 | 4:54:18 PM
re: A Sept. 11 Reflection


I'd agree that our perspective is permanently changed.

DCITDave
DCITDave
12/5/2012 | 4:54:18 PM
re: A Sept. 11 Reflection


Yeah, I can only imagine how out of sorts I'd feel if I were traveling that week. 


About the significance factor, I look at the world differently now when it comes to our communications infrastructure and how fragile it is. I think the stories that we've done since -- the most recent Japanese earthquake comes to mind -- we pay particular attention to how the networks recover and how quickly people can get back in touch with one another.


 

cnwedit
cnwedit
12/5/2012 | 4:54:18 PM
re: A Sept. 11 Reflection


Like Paul Kapustka, I was in Atlanta at Networld+Interop, staying in touch with my colleagues at our NYC-based publication by cellphone. One of those colleagues was Dennis Mendyk, who now heads Heavy Reading.


Believe it or not, the first morning N+I press conference went on as planned and one speaker actually cracked a joke about dodging airplanes. I won't mention his name here because I'm sure he came to regret that indiscretion mightily.


Like Paul, I had to rent a car to get home, although my trip was a one-day jaunt to Chicago. The most striking thing about the trip was that the sun was shining brightly and the skies were clear -- few clouds and no planes.


In the weeks that followed, I was never more aware of the significance of the industry I covered and also never more painfully cognizant of the fact that some of what we write about that industry is its trivia.


Thanks for the perspective, Phil.

MMQoS
MMQoS
12/5/2012 | 4:54:17 PM
re: A Sept. 11 Reflection


Phil:


Interesting that you were in Texas at the time.  That is where I was able to get a flight to San Francisco, maybe the only flight out of DFW that day which was the 14th.  I too was at N+I in Atlanta presenting on 10G Enet in the morning sessions.  I remember first hearing about some plane running into the building while getting on the shuttle bus to the show and then seeing the CNN live video on the screens on the floor.  Everyone was confused and so our session went on anyway.  Not the most attentive audience I ever spoke to but most sat through.


Getting to Texas was interesting as three others and I somehow found a van for rent on the 13th planning to take that LONG drive back to No. Calif. driving 24 hr/day.  When we crossed the Mississippi River and realized that it was going to take a long time plus we had already gone thru all of our CD's (remember those?) someone got smart and tried calling all of the airlines.  Somehow we got lucky and booked reservations on a flight the next day (9/14) from DFW.


As a kid I had driven with my parents across Texas and remembered what a big state it is so as it got darker, I got bolder driving faster and faster.  Outside of the Texas cities you can usually get away with driving fast but on the outskirts of Dallas I was pulled over by a Ranger while doing 110 indicated on the speedo.  I did not want to miss that flight early the next morning so I told him that we had been in Atlanta, that we had snagged a reservation and that we all had to get back home to our California families who were terribly shaken.  He pulled out his book and started writing but to my surprise he only gave me a warning and told me to slow down.  I still have that warning in a scrap book.


In the terminal we watched as most of the flights pending were cancelled but again with luck on our side, ours boarded and we got out of there.  Great to get home.   


It speaks to the bond in our community that you would post this story and have people remember the event so well.  It also spoke to the quality and integrity of our networks that systems continued to transmit data (including allowing us to make a successful flight resevation on the cell system).


 

DCITDave
DCITDave
12/5/2012 | 4:54:17 PM
re: A Sept. 11 Reflection


Appropriate response: Thanks for the post, Kaps. It was weird how time stopped for a few days. No planes. No traveling. No planning anything. Just, you know, do whatever you could do.


Light Reading response: If I were in the middle of Kansas I'd cry, too. 


ph

kaps
kaps
12/5/2012 | 4:54:17 PM
re: A Sept. 11 Reflection


After getting over the fear that we all might be sitting ducks -- there were rumors that day that CNN, whose HQ is next door to the convention center, was also a target -- there was a feeling of sad helplessness of all the industry folks "trapped" at the show. The thing that brought us together that week -- N+I -- became inconsequential in the face of everything else going on. Almost everyone there wanted to *do* something but basically couldn't since they were cut off from their homes, offices, and communities.


So getting home became priority #1, and there were many inventive methods -- van rentals, bus rentals, car pools -- I was lucky enough to reserve what I think was the last car available at the Hertz location at a Buckhead hotel (since the airport was closed). Three things I remember most about the drive back -- breaking into tears somewhere in the middle of Kansas when I heard the radio broadcast of the Battle Hymn of the Republic played at the national ceremony; hearing planes overhead for the first time in days as I drove through Salt Lake City; and a biblical thunderstorm on the plains of Colorado that I rode out in a Denny's, just beating the rain to the door.


But to Phil's point, all during that first day I never forgot that I was reporting for Light Reading -- as tangential as that might have seemed to the larger events, it somehow meant a lot to keep what order we could. So yeah that meant going down in the basement of the Atlanta CC while there was still uncertainty in the air, to see how the events affected N+I. As you can tell from the brevity of the post, I didn't stick around very long. But it did seem important to keep doing what we did.

kaps
kaps
12/5/2012 | 4:54:17 PM
re: A Sept. 11 Reflection


After getting over the fear that we all might be sitting ducks -- there were rumors that day that CNN, whose HQ is next door to the convention center, was also a target -- there was a feeling of sad helplessness of all the industry folks "trapped" at the show. The thing that brought us together that week -- N+I -- became inconsequential in the face of everything else going on. Almost everyone there wanted to *do* something but basically couldn't since they were cut off from their homes, offices, and communities.


So getting home became priority #1, and there were many inventive methods -- van rentals, bus rentals, car pools -- I was lucky enough to reserve what I think was the last car available at the Hertz location at a Buckhead hotel (since the airport was closed). Three things I remember most about the drive back -- breaking into tears somewhere in the middle of Kansas when I heard the radio broadcast of the Battle Hymn of the Republic played at the national ceremony; hearing planes overhead for the first time in days as I drove through Salt Lake City; and a biblical thunderstorm on the plains of Colorado that I rode out in a Denny's, just beating the rain to the door.


But to Phil's point, all during that first day I never forgot that I was reporting for Light Reading -- as tangential as that might have seemed to the larger events, it somehow meant a lot to keep what order we could. So yeah that meant going down in the basement of the Atlanta CC while there was still uncertainty in the air, to see how the events affected N+I. As you can tell from the brevity of the post, I didn't stick around very long. But it did seem important to keep doing what we did.

Page 1 / 2   >   >>
More Blogs from The Philter
Our series on the state of the SD-WAN market continues with a discussion on what's holding back some companies in the space and how standards and new technologies are advancing the cause of SD-WAN.
Jio's competitive market, fast growth and expanding customer base present some interesting machine learning and analytics challenges for Guavus, its newly announced analytics partner.
It's going to take some televisionary moves for pay-TV providers and big studio owners like AT&T to sort out what consumers want, how to package it and what to call it.
Machine learning is primed to help service providers run more efficient and effective networks, but first the good ideas have to make their way from the lab to the real world – and that's a big challenge, according to the University of Chicago's Nick Feamster.
Light Reading's editors discuss Dish Network, its pioneering past, a few hilarious missteps and why the company seems just as likely as anyone to be the next big player in 5G networks.
Featured Video
Upcoming Live Events
October 1-2, 2019, New Orleans, Louisiana
October 10, 2019, New York, New York
October 22, 2019, Los Angeles, CA
November 5, 2019, London, England
November 7, 2019, London, UK
November 14, 2019, Maritim Hotel, Berlin
December 3, 2019, New York, New York
December 3-5, 2019, Vienna, Austria
March 16-18, 2020, Embassy Suites, Denver, Colorado
May 18-20, 2020, Irving Convention Center, Dallas, TX
All Upcoming Live Events