Tonawanda News


December 5, 2012

DUVALL: Post's photo choice was terrible


Tonawanda News — The newspaper ran Abbasi’s photo on the front page with the following headline: “DOOMED Pushed on the subway track, this man is about to die”.

Thankfully, they stopped short of explicitly stating their front page’s obvious implication: “Isn’t that AWESOME!?”

I literally can’t think of a more insensitive or cynical way to depict a man’s tragic death.

One of the most common critiques from readers to this or any newspaper is that “we’re just trying to sell newspapers.” As a colleague of mine once noted, “You’re damn right. We run a business. Do we criticize a guy working at Sears for trying to sell toasters?”

That may be true — we are a business and we do want you to buy the paper — but it’s also our obligation to sell newspapers responsibly.

We have a long-standing policy here at the News to weigh a difficult or disturbing photo or story’s newsworthiness against the potential effect it will have on family, friends and the larger community. 

It’s my firm belief that there is a way to accomplish our primary and critically important mission of informing readers of news in this community while also being a responsible community institution. It might go without saying, such a policy does not include running a photo of a man who’s about to die accompanied by an over-the-top sensational headline.

Their story goes on to quote Abbasi and others on the scene in heart-wrenching and compelling detail. The story itself is a very impressive bit of spot news reporting, abetted by a little luck in having an employee as an eye-witness. Had The Post left it at that, they’d have won the daily competition between New York metros by scoring the best version of a highly talked-about story.

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