Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Not a Kodak Moment

Call it sensationalism or call it irresponsible journalism, either way I am appalled. I'm sure you've all heard about and likely seen the image and headline from today's New York Post: “Pushed on the subway track, this man is about to die... DOOMED," and he was. Ki Suk Han, a 58 year old husband and father from Queens, NY, was fatally struck.

The image is haunting. It's hard to look at it and not imagine the fear he must have felt. It makes me sick to my stomach. As awful as the story is, I don't disagree with it being published. What I disagree with is the publishing of the picture, and I'm far from alone; outrage spread across the internet today condemning the paper, and the photographer. 

Can you imagine how his wife and child must feel, seeing their loved one in that awful and terrifying final moment, and wondering why no one tried to help him? The photographer claims he was rushing toward the train, rapidly firing his flash in an attempt to alert the train engineer. Really? I've never operated a subway, but I've ridden on them plenty of times. There are all kinds of sparks and flashes in those tunnels and stations; it doesn't stand to reason that a camera flash would have much effect on the engineer's attention other than to catch his eye perhaps. Someone yelling and screaming and waving their arms up and down in the air like a crazy person would likely have been more effective. At the speeds those trains travel, however, it's unlikely the engineer would have been able to stop in time even if the flash had alerted him.
I don't want to unfairly judge the photographer for not rushing to try and pull the man back up on the platform, I wasn't there. There were others in the station as well. Were any of them near enough and able to try to help save him? Until we individually face that defining moment and discover whether we are the 'fight' or 'flight' type, how can any of us judge someone from afar? 

While we may never know exactly what the photographer was thinking, we do know he was aware the man was in jeopardy. He was in the right place to take the picture, and likely he took several if he was rapidly firing his flash. He isn't just some random tourist or photo hobbyist either, he is a freelance New York Post photographer. And the picture is pretty well framed and focused, don't you think? Almost to perfectly if you ask me. I, along with others, believe that the photographer was morally bound to help the victim, if he was able to do so rather than get the picture. 

Once back at the office, there had to be a meeting of the editorial staff. A decision had to be made to run the story and publish the picture, on the front cover, and full page. Wow! How do you make a decision like that? Who makes a decision like that? What goes through your mind? Were the staff giddy with excitement? Given the reputation of that paper, I can only imagine they were. 

In reponse to the outcry that the decision was classless, cruel and lacked integrity, Marc Cooper, a professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, said many people 'rushed to judgment without a full understanding of the facts.' I don't think anyone has rushed to judgment. This was classless, cruel and lacks all integrity. What do you think?


  1. Oh, Megan. I just read about this earlier this morning. I saw the picture and felt queasy. In this age when it is so easy to take a picture from your camera, I'll bet there are many more shots out there. My guess is that many people were just stunned.

    Why two strong people couldn't have grabbed his arms and pulled him up and out is beyond me. But it happened in mere seconds, didn't it?

    I know it is that guy's job to take pictures -- but it does feel wrong. And what about all the other people on the platform?

  2. The picture made my stomach turn. In terms of why no one helped this man, there is the issue of bystanders phenomenon, which easily could have been at play here. Like you said though, without being there yourself, there is no way to really know what was going on. No matter what happened, I think it is just awful that the actual picture has been published.

  3. Unfortunately we live in an age where money talks and everything else walks. I almost guarantee you that the editorial staff consciously decided that this image would be more profitable to run over anything else they had that day. Despicable I know, but truthful to say the least.

    As for the photographer, framing the shot is trivial nowadays with today's equipment. All he had to do was just hold the shutter down while slightly moving the camera a few degrees, the equipment takes care of the rest.

    It's a sad day for that family and terrible expression of our humanity. Where were all the other people in the subway? why didn't *anyone* help!? I think I would have dropped everything to rush to the guy and try to pull him up but then again... that's what we all say and we don't quite know that we would really do that if put in that situation.