Many Viewers to Tune Out Sept. 11 Coverage

This Sept. 11 promises to be a big day in television history, as broadcasters try to tastefully cover the one-year anniversary of the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil.

The question is, will anyone be watching?

"My thinking is to stay away from that," said Steve Buxbaum, 34, who works as an asset manager in Los Angeles. "It seems like a really horrible way to commemorate or recognize the significance of the event."

Nevertheless, stations will devote as many as 16 hours to covering the day's events, including footage of memorial services in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, as well as specials about the victims, the investigation and terrorism.

In the traditional competitive spirit of the medium, a number of news channels are offering something exclusive, especially during prime-time programming.

Among some of the specials are a taped CBS interview with President Bush; a Barbara Walters special in which she documents nine months of therapy with Sept. 11 widows and children on ABC; coverage of the musical tribute, "Concert for America," attended by first lady Laura Bush on NBC; and a taped Charlie Daniels concert on the Fox News Channel.

But many say that sitting in front of the tube is the last thing they want to do on Sept. 11.

Buxbaum hopes to spend time with friends after work.

"I'm toying with the idea of heading to the beach or somewhere quiet and being with people I care about, trying to ignore the noise," he said.

One New Yorker who was in an office building a mere 100 feet from the Twin Towers when the planes struck said he'll likely pass on TV too.

"I don't think I'll watch much of the coverage," said Mason Tilden, 27, an assistant bond trader. "I'll probably go down there [to Ground Zero] that day or night and walk around."

Tilden said he watched television for three days straight when the attacks gripped the world last year, but this Sept. 11, he'd rather spend the day doing something more meaningful.

"I'll probably go to the church [near Ground Zero] to remind myself how much life was lost, how many of my friends were affected and how much pain this caused," he said.

Cristina Barden, a store planner from Long Island, also plans on attending a religious service that day.

"I definitely want to try to go to church and mark the occasion," she said. "As much as I'd love to watch the coverage, I don't think I'm going to be able to. As far as I know, I'm going to be at work."

Some say they'll watch the televised tributes in small doses.

"I want to watch part of it but at the same time, I don't know how much of it I can handle," said Michelle Crispino, 25, who works at a non-profit in Washington, D.C.

Like others, she expects to be at work during the day and home at night.

"In the evening, I'll probably go straight home," she said. "If I were anywhere else, I'd feel a little vulnerable."

Crispino doesn't think television should ignore the anniversary but is concerned that the wall-to-wall specials might be too much for some.

"It definitely deserves coverage, but I worry it could become exploitative," she said. "I wonder what it would be like for someone who was involved. There's going to be no relief for them whatsoever."

There are a few who say watching TV will be the main event in their houses this Sept. 11.

"We'll watch the television coverage, and we'll be praying that nothing else will happen," said Jim Smith, 40, of Indianapolis. "We'll probably be on pins and needles."

Smith, who has one son who joined the Army a year ago and another who plans to go into the Marines, said he'll also be on the Internet on Wednesday, tapping into -- an online support group for military families.

"It's really hitting our home hard," Smith said of the Sept. 11 tragedy. "It's bad you have to watch it -- every time I see one of the buildings fall, I cringe -- but we can't forget. I'll be glued to the TV that day."