NY Post editor’s decision a disgrace
In 1983, a woman who was working at a barbershop was offered a drink with potassium cyanide. And the killer took more than 20 photographs of her dying. Lee Dong-sik claimed the photos were works of art. Three years later, he was executed. Lee Dong-sik was a psychopath.
I was reminded of the heinous crime when I saw the cover photo in the New York Post of a Korean man about to be struck by a subway train. He was hanging onto the platform and looking at the train approaching moments before his death. The headline read, “Pushed on the subway track, this man is about to die.”
We all felt the desperation of that man. If the editor wished to convey to readers what the man felt that moment through the photo and the headline, he is out of his mind. The headline writer is not so different from the murderer who thought photos of a dying woman were works of art.
Photographs are powerful. A photo of a white police officer beating a black man ignited a wave of riots across America. A photo of a refugee ended a war.
The Pulitzer Prize recognizes achievements in journalism and literature, and many award-winning photographs have become famous. We have all seen the photograph of a firefighter trying to save a 2-year-old. From the photo of a South Vietnamese police chief executing a captured Viet Cong, we have all felt the feelings of the man who kills and the man being killed. The photograph shocked Americans who had grown inured to the horrors of war.
Another famous photograph is of a starving girl trying to reach a feeding center in Sudan while a vulture was preying on her. After the photograph was released, the number of Unicef sponsors grew rapidly. Upon taking the photo, Kevin Carter immediately moved the girl. However, the girl died and he was criticized that he should have saved the girl first, instead of taking the photo. Three months after he won the Pulitzer Prize, he killed himself.
The photographer who took the photograph that appeared on the cover of the Post should have tried to save the man instead. Surely he must feel tormented for making such a choice.
But the editor of the New York Post who made the decision to put the photo on the cover of the paper is worse than the man who pushed another man down to the subway platform and the photographer who took the photo.
He is worse than Lee Dong-sik, who was executed 29 years ago. There is nothing more valuable than human life.
* The author is a guest columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Eom Eul-soon