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March 5, 2013

A Suicide Photo

In spite of all the newswire images I look at everyday, this one keeps troubling me — this #11 (out of 24) in Reuters March 1st Editor’s Choice slideshow. (You can read the caption below.)

I keep wanting to shake the couple in the foreground. I want to ask the guy on the bridge taking the photo: “did you really miss it? Did you really not see anything?” Especially I want to ask who that China Daily photographer was. What did the photographer see, and exactly when? And what did the photographer do about it? (Remember how much feeling got stirred up by the Daily News NY Post photo of Ki Suk Han whose impending death was documented on the NY subway tracks?) I want to also be hard on on the newswire for profiting — and on myself for being that passive newswire bystander.

UPDATE: Chillingly but helpfully, I found this follow up (though, with a still more troubling version of the original photo). It’s something, at least, to know that the man in the foreground did notice and did attend, and that the photographer reacted too. Having that bit of follow up, it does make me think even more, however, about the nature, purpose and conscience of the daily news slideshow.

(photo: REUTERS/China Daily via Reuters Editor’s Choice 3/1/13 caption: A person jumps off the Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge in Hubei province February 27, 2013. A young couple jumped into the Yangtze River from the bridge one after another in the haze on Wednesday. According to local media, police said the couple was still missing and has a low chance of surviving.)

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