By Barbie Zelizer
Because of its skill to freeze a second in time, the picture is a uniquely robust gadget for ordering and figuring out the realm. but if a picture depicts complicated, ambiguous, or arguable events--terrorist assaults, wars, political assassinations--its skill to steer conception can turn out deeply unsettling. Are we actually seeing the area "as it is" or is the picture a fabrication or projection? How do a photo's content material and shape form a viewer's impressions? What do such photographs give a contribution to old reminiscence? 'About to Die' makes a speciality of one emotionally charged classification of reports photograph--depictions of people who're dealing with impending death--as a prism for addressing such important questions. monitoring occasions as wide-ranging because the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, the Holocaust, the Vietnam battle, and Sep 11, Barbie Zelizer demonstrates that modes of journalistic depiction and the ability of the picture are significant cultural forces which are nonetheless faraway from understood. via a survey of a century of photojournalism, together with shut research of over sixty pictures, 'About to Die' presents a framework and vocabulary for figuring out the inside track imagery that so profoundly shapes our view of the area.
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Additional resources for About to Die: How News Images Move the Public
Though death’s depiction pushed news executives into debates over whether, where, and how they should display the images, their discussion moved toward a narrowing of possible imaging practices. Guidelines on photo display were published, reviewed, discussed, and revised, and ombudsmen’s columns tracked whether the duty to publish changed if the bodies were military rather than civilian, Iraqi rather than American, visible as distinctive human beings rather than charred corpses, women and children rather than men.
In so doing, it tracks how the “as if ” of news relay shapes knowledge and understanding of the world. Given journalism’s stature as a major institution of recording and memory, news images deserve attention on their own terms. This book demonstrates how powerful, complicated, nuanced, tenuous, internally contradictory, and often problematic those terms can be. Chapter 2 Why Images of Impending Death Make Sense in the News The events depicted by the “as if ” vary in nature: a young boy herded from the Warsaw Ghetto under a Nazi machinegun, Lee Harvey Oswald being gunned down by Jack Ruby, a Palestinian child crouching in fear before being shot to death all replay the moment before death as a synecdochic stand-in for the diverse realities of natural disaster, war, torture, crime, illness, assassination, planned violence, accidents, and acts of terrorism.
The ﬁrst instance recorded a moment whose outcome did not lead to death— the shooting of New York City mayor William J. Gaynor, on August 9, 1910. A disgruntled city employee boarded a docked ship in Hoboken, New Jersey, on which Gaynor was aboard waiting to sail for Europe. 9 Although the assassination attempt failed, the photo’s taking was memorable, as Evening World photographer William Warnecke came late to the event and approached the crowd just as the would-be assassin drew his pistol. The resulting image, which appeared the next day in Warnecke’s paper, showed a stunned Gaynor, stiffening with the impact of a gunshot wound to the back of the throat (ﬁg.
About to Die: How News Images Move the Public by Barbie Zelizer