Documenting the unknown: how United Airlines Flight 93 is portrayed in factual and fictional media

Coogan, Kathryn (2013) Documenting the unknown: how United Airlines Flight 93 is portrayed in factual and fictional media. BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

[img] PDF
Restricted to Registered users only

Download (401kB)


    Objectives of this study are to analytically discuss representation of September 11th 2001 hijacking of United Airlines Flight 93 in both fictional and factual media – specifically newspaper reportage, docudrama and ‘Made-for-TV’ film. The challenging aspect for media portrayals of United Airlines Flight 93 was the lack of factual evidence, due to it being a unwitnessed and theoretically ‘unknown’ event. In Chapter One, semantic analysis into reportage from the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette and New York Post covering significant time periods of September 2001 and September 2002 shows stylistic differences in reportage from a national and local newspaper. The New York Post asserted dialogues of defiance in both time-frames, discussing a notion of revenge against an unknown threat. This is further developed in 2002 with focus given to wider political agenda of September 11th with a potential intent of gaining support for the War on Terror. In comparison the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette focused on the localisation in their home community, offering audiences varied narrative perspectives of the event. Secondly, through the methodological approach of textual and visual analysis into feature films United 93 (Greengrass, 2006) and Flight 93 (Markle, 2006), the study compares and contrasts thematic, aesthetic and narrative differences when fictionally portraying the hijacking. Results show directional differences when comparing the two films with themes of Greengrass’ docudrama highlighting an apparent zeal for authenticity depicted through thematic and aesthetic stylistic traits, such as heroic ambiguity and real-time filming. Significant differences have been found in Markle’s reconstruction as the narrative takes a highly individualistic and emotional trajectory through the inclusion of a third perspective from family members. This, partnered with quick narrative progression and biased heroic representations offers an increased amount of dramatisation when depicting the journey of the fateful flight. This study found that numerous agendas and objectives determine the narrative trajectories of United Airline Flight 93. Through the use of lexical and aesthetic choices media outlets have managed to present a varied range of fictional and factual depictions of the terror event.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries > School of Media and Performing Arts
    Depositing User: Beth Atkins
    Date Deposited: 13 Aug 2014 13:37
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 12:40

    Actions (login required)

    View Item

    Document Downloads

    More statistics for this item...