A man is dead this week after being pushed onto the tracks of the New York City subway system by another man and being struck by an oncoming train.

The man who did the pushing has been taken into custody.

A freelance photographer happened to be at the scene when the man was pushed onto the tracks, with camera in hand.  The photographer said he tried to alert the train’s conductor to the man on the tracks by pressing the shutter button on his camera so the flash would go off repeatedly.  In the process, he captured a photo of the train bearing down on the man who was trying desperately to climb onto the ledge before he was struck by the train.

The photographer has gotten heat for not doing more to try and save the man on the tracks, like putting the camera aside and running up to try and grab the victim within a 22-second time span.  To be fair, other people nearby could have just as easily made more of an effort to help as well.

The photographer said he was haunted by what happened.  Yet the photographer admitted that he sold the photo of the train about to hit the man.

Rupert Murdoch - Caricature
Rupert Murdoch – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

The New York Post — owned by tabloid king Rupert Murdoch — saw fit to run that photo on the front page, not just once but two days in a row.  But, for a tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch, that’s not surprising.  Journalistic ethics is not a particular strong suit when it comes to any journalistic outlet owned by Rupert Murdoch.

In any journalistic outlet owned by Rupert Murdoch, it’s generally not so much journalism as it is sensationalism.

I won’t say whether the photographer himself was right or wrong in not doing more to run up to and literally reach out to the man on the tracks to try and rescue him.  Maybe the photographer wasn’t strong enough, but adrenaline alone can help people to do amazing things.  Where I do absolutely fault him is in the fact that he sold the photo.  If his intention was to try and help save the man by setting off his flash repeatedly, why did he choose to profit off of that good intention?

Journalism Notebook
Journalism Notebook (Photo credit: planeta)

As for the New York Post … well, a rag is a rag.

News photographers often react on instinct.  There’s not always a lot of time to decide what is right or wrong in their reactions, especially in a case like the New York Post’s front page (twice!!!) photo.

In my own newspaper reporting/editing days, I often “chased ambulances” with a camera in tow.  We had a police scanner in the office, so we could know what was happening when it was happening.  Instinct told us to follow the action.

On one particular afternoon in my editing days, I was the only editorial staff member in the office when a call came over the scanner about a vehicle that had gone off of a bridge into a river underneath a rural road.  I followed the ambulance for miles, ending up on a winding dirt road.

The ambulance I was following stopped at a bridge.  Another ambulance with two more emergency responders was already there.  Four people had crammed themselves into the cab of a pickup truck, and none of them were breathing.  The emergency personnel had four people lying on the ground after they were pulled out of the river, and none of the victims were breathing.  The rescuers were short-handed with four people’s lives needing to be saved.

I set my camera aside and ran to help.  While one rescuer pumped on a victim’s chest, I pumped air into the victim’s lungs.  Once the victim started breathing again, the strong aroma of alcohol was evident.  Each one of the four victims was brought back to life, but I don’t think any of them ended up surviving due to brain damage.

Through it all, I never lifted my camera to take a shot.

Those were my instincts.  The mileage of a photographer’s instincts may vary.

It’s what you choose to do after the fact that really counts.


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