R. Umar Abbasi’s shot of New Yorker Ki Suk Han as he was about to be struck and killed by an oncoming train is arguably one of the most controversial photographs in recent memory. The subsequent “DOOMED” news rag cover was shocking, even for the New York Post. Was the photographer really trying to warn the train conductor with the flash of his camera? What of the others who swarmed around the body for their own cellphone pic? Is there a clear ethical line when it comes to photojournalism and what is the responsibility of a publisher? Let’s look back and briefly survey some of the biggest media photo controversies of 2012 — some serious, some frivolous — and continue the discussion. Warning: Many of these images are rather disturbing.
R. Umar Abbasi’s photograph has raised an extensive debate on what is ethical to photograph. However, just in the last few days, there have been three incidents of injury or death on the New York subway. Only a horrific photograph like this had attracted so much attention to any particular instance, and hopefully, will make commuters more aware of their surroundings.