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Summary of "The Boston Photographs" Summary and Response Paper. This essay is about "The Boston Photographs" by Nora Ephron

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  • April 12, 2005
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Summary of "The Boston Photographs"

In "The Boston Photographs," writer Nora Ephron writes about three very controversial pictures taken of a rescue attempt that failed. The photographs were taken by Stanley Forman of the Boston Herald American. He was using a motor driven camera, which allowed him to take three frames per second. The first shot showed a fireman that was rescuing a woman and a child. The next picture showed the fire escape breaking off the building. The third picture showed the woman and her child in the air falling toward the ground. The woman died on impact, but the child landed on the woman's body and lived.

The pictures were in more than 400 newspapers across the United States. Reader reaction across the country was almost all negative. The newspapers received many negative letters from its readers. They all repeated the same thing. "Invading the privacy of death." "Cheap sensationalism." "I thought I was reading the National Enquirer." Many editors wrote and defended the pictures. One newspaper responded by saying they printed the article to show the dangers of fire escapes and about the slumlords.

Charles Seib, the former managing editor of the Washington Star believed that the editors should have censored what they published. Seib stated that the editors were not taking the readers into consideration when they show pictures of death. Ephron does not agree with Seib and writes, "It is irresponsible--and more than that, inaccurate--for newspapers to fail to show it, or to show it only when an astonishing set of photos comes in over the Associated Press wire. Most papers covering fatal automobile accidents will print pictures of mangled cars. But the significance of fatal automobile accidents is not that a great deal of steel is twisted but that people die." Ephron also states that the pictures should have been printed because they are "great pictures, breathtaking pictures of something that happened." She thinks that the fact that...