This article views television news coverage of ongoing terrorist attacks and their immediate aftermath as a special genre within journalism, and describes norms connected with the genre. The description is based on qualitative analyses of the coverage on the major American networks in the fi rst 24 hours after the events on September 11, 2001, and on semi-structured personal interviews with 37 journalists who covered the events for ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC and FOX News. In accordance with legal and moral philosopher Alf Ross, each of the norms was expressed as a directive in the interviews and also refl ected in the journalistic practices. The described norms form a coherent pattern if safeguarding the existing democracy and the general public is considered to be the main purpose. A coverage based on this pattern of norms can be compared to other forms of crisis management following attacks because it counteracts well known symptoms of national crisis.