Tonawanda News

Columns

December 5, 2012

DUVALL: Post's photo choice was terrible

Tonawanda News — Every so often a news story comes along that not only shocks readers, but forces some deep contemplation on the part of people in my profession whose job it is to report it.

Such a story took place Monday in New York City when a deranged panhandler in a Times Square subway station shoved a man onto the tracks as the train approached. Among the horrified onlookers was a freelance photographer for the New York Post, R. Umar Abbasi.

To hear Abbasi’s side of the story — though The Post has declined to put him forward so he can say it himself — he ran toward the train firing off his camera in the hope that the flash would alert the conductor to stop before he hit and killed Ki-Suck Han. The photos he recorded show Han desperately trying to clamber up the side of the deep subway platform as the train bears down on him. He could not and became pinned between the train and the platform. He died of the resulting injuries.

Some have questioned Abbasi, wondering whether he should have been taking pictures when he could have been helping Han get off the tracks. I find this criticism unfair for several reasons.

First, he was trying to help. Maybe it wasn’t the smartest way to go about it, but there seems to have been a genuine attempt made. Second, the frame The Post ran shows Abbasi a fair distance away from Han. It’s unclear whether he would have been able to reach him in time even if he’d wanted to. Third, if we’re criticizing one person who was trying to help, we should share criticism with everyone on the platform who froze and failed to act.

There is, however, plenty of criticism to heap on Abbasi’s employers at The Post.

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