Two Haunting Images, but Why Criticism for Only One?

Updated 3:06 p.m. | The two photos, taken a week apart, though hardly identical, have much in common: a man seconds away from sudden public death, the instrument of his demise closing in on him.

But the photos have been received very differently.

The New York Post was widely criticized for publishing a picture of a man about to be crushed by a subway train — and we were criticized for rerunning it in a piece about The Post’s cover. Yet very few eyelashes were batted about the widespread publication Tuesday of a chilling photo of Brandon Woodard texting obliviously on a Midtown street as a man drawing a gun from his pocket prepared to murder him.

Why the disparate responses?

Some of the criticism of the subway photo was aimed at the photographer, who many thought should have helped pull the victim up rather than taking his picture, though he said he was too far away to do anything in time. And some of it was aimed at The Post’s choice of words to go with the disturbing image.

But there seems to be something about the images themselves that made one of them highly questionable and the other relatively non-problematic. (The journalism blog Poynter has also weighed in on the subject, as has The Times’s David Carr.)

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