100 articles – ‘Falling Man’

9 September 2011

Written by: Lawrie Zion

 ‘Falling Man’ by Tom Junod

Thousands of stories have been told about 11 September 2001. What makes this one so important is that it questions the photojournalistic practices, editorial decisions and the attitude of Americans from across the USA all in discussion of one simple photograph.

After appearing in hundreds of newspapers across America, including The New York Times, the photograph of the man falling to the ground disappeared from the public eye, leaving Tom Junod to wonder why it did and who the famous ’falling man’ was.

The man in the photograph ‘appears relaxed, hurtling through the air. He appears comfortable in the grip of unimaginable motion. He does not appear intimidated by gravity’s divine suction or by what awaits him.’ The fact that the man looked so calm in the image might be one of the reasons it made the public feel so uncomfortable.

 When the world looked at the picture they almost forgot (or maybe they chose to) that the man was in fact committing suicide. They preferred to remember the images of the heroic men and women on that day rather than the ‘jumpers’.

In terms of journalism it raises the issue of self censorship. Where do we draw the line as to what should be published and what is unethical or taboo ? In  news rooms across the country they asked this very question on September 11.

Matthew Dixon is a final-year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University and is part of upstart’s editorial team. You can follow him on Twitter: @matthewdixon23

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