09/09/2011 09:17 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

9/11: How TV Networks Broke The News (VIDEO)

The morning of September 11, 2001 started like any other for most people -- not least of all the morning anchors and producers expecting to report on kids going back-to-school, fall fashions and other stories typical of a Tuesday in September.

But the morning turned out very differently. All the major networks were live with footage of the World Trade Center by 8:52 a.m., minutes after the first plane hit the North Tower. Matt Lauer cut an interview short to deliver the news with Katie Couric on "Today," while Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer broke the news on "Good Morning America."

News about the terrorist attacks was still unconfirmed at that point, with anchors reporting that a plane had crashed into the building but unsure of the size, and eyewitnesses speculating that it could have been a bomb.

When the second plane hit the South Tower, it became instantly clear that something deliberate was going on. It also became one of the most harrowing and tragically iconic moments in television history — a visual that is still seared into the collective consciousness ten years later. To watch the footage now is to experience something akin to the feeling of seeing a horror movie. We see the anchors fumbling to explain what is going on, even as we know all too well the terror and trauma they are about to experience. Then that plane hits, and we see these usually composed people suddenly lose it, if only for a moment. What's remarkable is how much they all maintain their focus, even as the world literally changes before their eyes.

Below, see how television covered the attacks as they were happening.

TV networks broke news of 9/11 attacks