The N.Y. Times 'Portraits Of Grief'

The New York Times coverage of the terror attacks won the paper six Pulitzer Prizes, including one for the section which included "Portraits of Grief."

The small biographies of Trade Center victims had a large impact on reporters, editors, and readers around the country. National Correspondent Jon Frankel, whose father is a former executive editor of the Times, reports for The Early Show.

The attacks and their aftermath were daunting events to cover and report. One of the most challenging aspects was to measure, in human scale, the enormity of the human loss. "Portraits of Grief" succeeded.

Karol Ann Keasler may have been reared in a two-stoplight town in Arizona, but she was hardly a small-town girl. She lived in Africa for two years....

Ever wondered who writes those wacky email jokes that make the rounds on Wall Street? Anthony Fallone was clearly one of the champs. With his deep belly laugh and...

Thomas Dwayne Collman didn't mind flying the extra shift. Traveling was his idea of bliss.

"Portrait is a good word - snapshot's a good word. Obituary is a bad word," says Jonathan Landman, metro editor of the New York Times.

"Not what schools they went to, how many children they had, what job promotions they'd had. But more their passions, the things they loved, funny stories about them," explains New York Times reporter Janny Scott.

"And they were all quite democratic: the same size, the same approach," adds Landman.

"There was no attempt to select, you know, 'We'll do Neil Levin, the head of the Port Authority, and we won't do this particular cafeteria cashier.' We were going to do everyone," says Scott.

Anthony Alvarado lived for his son. They walked to Yankee Stadium, played dominoes, went to the movies...

There can be no doubt that Heather Ho, the award winning pastry chef, had a sweet tooth. She came to Windows on the World...

Scott is among the reporters who conceived "Portraits of Grief." It was originally called "Among the Missing," as the Times tried to humanize the haunting jumble of faces posted across Manhattan. Once it became clear that "the missing" had become "the victims," "Portraits" evolved into a place where family members could honor loved ones. Scott is still impressed by those families.

"You're coming to people, complete strangers, at the most horrible moment of their lives," says Scott. "The people that I spoke to rose to the occasion in the most remarkable way, and mustered the strength and courage and humanity and whatever it took to talk about these people in very human ways."

Stella Kramer, one of the lead photo editors, shows us the images. "Look how many people are smiling…" she says noting the pictures were every bit as compelling as the text.

"It was really important thing to me that you got to look into the eyes of these people, to identify with these people that were a part of you. You know, you were a New Yorker - these were New Yorkers. These were just regular people, just like you," she says.

The intimacy, which made the "Portraits" so compelling to read, also made them challenging to write.

"For some people, it was very painful, difficult work," says Landman. "Others had exactly the opposite reaction. They demanded to do them, they wanted to do them; they found it life-affirming."

The "Portraits" page became a connecting point for readers across the country, especially for those in a grieving city.

"They told us they read them almost with a sense of religious obligation," says Landman.

"And it turned into this sort of national ritual of reading these things, you know, early in the morning, late at night, sitting at breakfast tables, on the subway," adds Scott.

The nearly 2,100 "Portraits," written by more than 170 Times reporters, have since been compiled into a book, a permanent honor roll of the victims.

"Robert J. Mayo used to leave notes on the breakfast table for his 11-year-old son Corbin..." reads Scott. It is one of the first she wrote about, a deputy fire marshall for the Trade Centers and a huge football fan.

Scott reads, "Mr. Mayo and Corbin were obsessed with the Giants, but they could never afford tickets. So they used to watch the games on television in the...

Maryl Mayo continues…"in the family room which Mrs. Mayo describes as their 'Giants shrine.' They would wear Giants caps and drink from Giants glasses and…"

"I was pleased and, again, very grateful, that someone had acknowledged these individuals, rather than just a mass of people - it touched upon the core of the individual," says Mrs. Mayo.

Then she finishes reading from the book, "On Sept. 11, Mr. Mayo's note to Corbin included a losing score - he wrote like, "Sorry…love you." The notes were always on scratch paper or the back of an envelope -- nothing fancy. I would kill for a couple of those notes now. Mrs. Mayo said."

And if you need any more indication of the power of these pieces, Mrs. Mayo and her son Corbin were inundated with offers of free Giants tickets, dozens of people sent them Giants autographs and souvenirs, all of which Mrs. Mayo says were appreciated beyond words.

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