When Not to Run a Photograph

The above photograph is of KISS bass player Gene Simmons.

This might seem a tad strange, considering the post you’re reading has, literally, nothing to do with Simmons, KISS or, even, music.

The reason you’re looking at Simmons is because, in the name of decency and good taste, I refuse to run the photograph I’m writing about; the photograph that appeared on the front page of today’s New York Post (that’s the link, if you truly feel compelled). In case you missed it, it was a frightening, heartbreaking image of a 58-year-old man, Ki Suk Han, desperately trying to climb off of a subway track as the train approaches. Han had been pushed there by a crazy man and, ultimately, he was struck and killed.

A Post freelance photographer happened to be waiting for the train, and said he fired off his camera so that the flash might get the attention of the operator. Tragically, it did not.

I am, once again, disgusted by the Post.

There are, quite often, times and places for gripping, graphic, awful photographs. Scenes from the aftermath of a deadly storm; scenes from war. This picture, taken during the Vietnam war, is a perfect example, in that it documents a precise scene during an important time; it educates the reader that what’s really going on.

The train photo, however, is a train photo. There’s nothing to be learned, or grasped, or understood. There’s no benefit, save for the selling of myriad copies of a decaying newspaper. It’s unfair to the man’s family; unfair to the kids who will happen upon it.

I’m disgusted. So, I’m guessing, is Gene.


3 thoughts on “When Not to Run a Photograph”

  1. that has to be one of the most bogus excuses i have ever heard – i fired my flash to try and get the operator’s attention! i decided i was too weak to even try actually, you know, helping the guy! you want to interview me, well, how much are you willing to pay me?


  2. Almost 20 years ago I took a journalism class and wrote a paper critiquing the Post’s coverage over a 7 day period. One of those days they ran a photo, I can’t remember if it was on page 1 or inside on page 3, looking down on Eric Clapton’s son as he lay dead after falling from his family’s open window. When I interviewed then-editor Jerry Nachman, I believe he said his primary justification was to highlight the importance of window guards.

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