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The Blue & Gray Press | August 22, 2019

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Editorial: “The Falling Man” photo spurs comment on journalistic integrity

Editorial: “The Falling Man” photo spurs comment on journalistic integrity


This week our nation honored the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Across the country American’s shared their thoughts and prayers online, often accompanied by a commemorative photo. Many famous photos from the 9/11 attacks emerged, however one in particular, when originally published, caused quite a stir in the American people.

The famous photo titled, “The Falling Man,” taken by Associated Press Photographer Richard Drew, caused people to question whether the content was too emotional for viewers, especially when published so soon after the devastating event.

The well-known photo featured an unidentified man falling from the World Trade Center after choosing to jump. The photo allows the viewers to see the events of that day in a new light. There is no violence, blood or gore present, but instead a man who chose to leave this world on his own terms.

Many people were outraged that this photo was publicized, and it was thought to be too emotionally destructive. Drew expressed his opinion about the controversial photo, saying “It’s our job as journalists to record history.”

We share the opinion that though some material may be sensitive to viewers, it has the ability to receive a positive emotional response that in turn adds to the greater good. That being said, there is a threshold when it comes to publicized content.

Journalists must make the conscious decision between work that will produce a positive reaction and work that lacks any ethical merit. While we strive to push the envelope through journalism, we, at The Blue & Gray Press fully take into consideration the lasting effects each piece we publish may have.