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Sept. 11 Reactions Shape Arc of Women's eNews

Sunday, September 11, 2011

While grieving and overwhelmed like most New Yorkers in the months following Sept. 11, 2001, Rita Henley Jensen says the event surprisingly also permanently changed the direction of Women's eNews for the better.

NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)--For a Manhattan dweller, I escaped relatively unscathed from the events here 10 years ago.

Nevertheless, the consequences of Sept. 11 and the dark months that followed, filled with bomb scares and anthrax attacks, changed my life profoundly. The events also shaped the arc of Women's eNews' growth in surprising and deeply gratifying ways.

At about 9:10 a.m. on Sept. 11, I was in an Upper West Side subway station, on my way to work at Women's eNews. There was an unusual amount of milling around in front of the token booth. Looking around, I noticed a woman who had been in my class at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. She told me her husband who worked in midtown had just called to tell her that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I expressed my surprise--no alarm--and hopped on the train that pulled in. I assumed, oh so wrongly, that the plane was a personal jet.

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By the time the train entered Times Square, the loud speakers were announcing no trains were going further downtown. Realizing that maybe something was terribly wrong, I climbed out of the subway, withdrew cash from an ATM and bought a bottle of water at a bodega -- the two essentials in a crisis. I then began to walk the 40 or so blocks south to my office, which was tucked inside the Soho offices of NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund.

The closer I got, the stronger the smell of smoke. You know the rest.

By early afternoon, Kathy Rodgers, president of NOW Legal Defense, told us that public health officials had deemed the office too close to the burning buildings and had closed it down for an indeterminate time. I told my staff of three we would be working from home for a while. (See our series "Women at Ground Zero" from that time).
Women and 9/11: Special Reports

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[private comment to author]
Wow! Thank you for this beautiful piece filled with complexity and depth! I receive your emails & have marveled at your Arabic site, so awesome to learn how/why this focus came about. As one who lived in the Middle East for four months post 9/11--it is so critical that women embrace their power in these regions. [I am saddened by the increased extremism throughout, especially in Egypt as far as head coverings go--and appreciate all means of providing balanced, factual info in the U.S. about the Middle East's various histories and recent events.] Anyway, this is a rough comment of gratitude! All the best to Women's Enews.