Tag Archives: New York Subway

Graphic Or Merely Indecent

Jeff Sonderman at Poynter has a great roundup of essays that grappled with the NY Post photo that I discussed in my last post.

The sociologist Zeynep Tufekci articulates a simple and persuasive method for determining when a journalistic photo is provocative, graphic and ultimately in the public interest versus one that is merely indecent and there to grab attention.

In sum: if the event is one-off and rare in nature, if the subject of the photo is not representative of an ongoing tragedy with many other victims, and if there is a split-second decision in which taking of the photo and trying to save the victim clash, that does not qualify as a graphic photo whose taking, purchasing and publication serves public interest and consequently what New York Post has done is crass and indefensible—and also indefensibly insensitive to the victim’s family.

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Solidarity At The Edge Of A Subway Platform

When the New York Post ran a picture of a man about to be struck by a subway train earlier this week, writer David Carr was disgusted. On his regularly awesome media decoder blog at the NY Times, Carr breaks down the ethics of posting that controversial pic.

One of six arguments he puts forth:

1. Within its four corners, The Post cover treatment neatly embodies everything people hate and suspect about the news media business: not only are journalists bystanders, moral and ethical eunuchs who don’t intervene when danger or evil presents itself, but perhaps they secretly root for its culmination.

Aside from the journalistic detachment of the freelance photographer, and the discussion within the media about yellow-journalism, I’m interested also in the social dynamics at play in the subway.

Carr mentions a news story from 2003 where a group of 4 teenaged friends drowned in a waterfall. After David, 18, slipped off a granite ledge, his 3 friends, Adam, Jonah and Jared jumped in to save him. The violent current and churning foam took all their lives.

Friendship inspired these young men to act and to sacrifice.

As a progressive, multicultural society, I wonder how we can cultivate this kind of solidarity even among people who are not lovers, friends or kin. Religious and secular groups foster this kind of community, but can it also be fortified with strangers?

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