Tuesday, Jul 22, 2014 09:24 am est

NY Post’s front page photo serves no journalistic purpose

Posted on December 4, 2012 | by WSN Editorial Board

After 58-year-old father Ki-Suck Han was struck and killed by a subway train on Monday, the New York Post ran a front page image of Han with the subway train yards away with the headline: “Pushed on the subway track, this man is about to die.” In huge letters below the photo, the Post described Han as “Doomed.” Many critics have labeled the move distasteful and insensitive.

The controversy over the photo has mostly centered around whether the photographer should have attempted to help Han rather than shoot photos. However, we cannot verify whether the photographer’s reasoning — that he was trying to alert the train driver to danger with camera flashes — is true, nor can we determine whether he or anyone else on the subway platform was in a position to save Han’s life. What we can judge is the Post’s decision to run the horrifying photograph.

We see images equally as upsetting on the news all the time. These are usually images of war or natural disasters; however, these photographs alert the public to important events and social ills. The photograph that the Post used does not add anything to the story. While it has a strong impact on our emotions, it does not help us to right the wrong or understand the situation any better. All it does is show the intensely private last moments of a helpless man’s life and grab the public’s attention, in hopes of selling a few more papers at the great cost of further traumatizing the victim’s family, as well as many readers.

The goal of journalism is to inform the public clearly and honestly, not to sensationalize stories to the point of distortion. What we should take away from this is that a man was killed, possibly murdered, on Monday. Any stories about this event should serve the purpose of informing society about issues of crime and public safety. The Post’s insatiable craving for sensationalism has led to a distortion of the story so that the questionable actions of a photographer have become more significant than the actions of the victim and the man suspected of killing him.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Dec. 5 print edition. Email the WSN Editorial Board at edboard@nyunews.com. 


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Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

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