Publishing the Nearly Dead
This is the front page of Rochester’s Democrat & Chronicle, today, Wednesday, October 10th, 2012 (I may be the only person in my demographic who gets a daily subscription). There was a crash in Brighton, NY yesterday involving a car full of four High Schoolers who wedged their vehicle underneath a school bus (you may enlarge to see just how horrific that image is). The article is not sensationalist, but the headline aligns with the thoughts of Karin E. Becker, author of Photojournalism and the Tabloid Press. Almost miraculously, none of the High School Students or the younger children in the school bus were injured, though two are in guarded condition at Strong Memorial Hospital.
Calling the crash a nightmare and seeing that image, I immediately thought this would rank many huge tragedies we have suffered involving young drivers. Even though the students are far from wholly unscathed, they survived, a positive aftermath, but the headline focuses on the critical negative event.
This also plays into an interview with Barbie Zelizer, author of About to Die: How News Images Move the Public. We are attracted to images of death, in this case, a narrowly escaped death.