The new millennium began with televised celebrations on every continent, hopeful events that suggested that modern communications were bringing closer the creation of Marshall McLuhan's global village. Yet the twenty-first century also brought almost unimaginable scenes of horror and suffering when terrorists flew hijacked airplanes into the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 11 September 2001. Enormous audiences in the United States and around the world relied on television for news about these disasters. Even government officials watched television because it provided more information more quickly than other available sources. Round-the-clock coverage on the broadcast as well as the cable news channels quickly spread the disbelief, outrage, grief, and uncertainty about the future that were immediate products of these startling events.
Technological changes—especially greater Internet access and the increasing convergence of the computer and the television—may alter viewing habits and change sources of news and information. But for the immediate future, at least, during conflicts, crises, and other important international developments, both public officials and citizens will turn to television news.