"[This book] embodies the Buddhist wisdom about change, life, and the
world more than anything written after the events of that day."
Robert Stone

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August 21, 2007


Earlier this month, I appeared on a panel in Washington, D.C., at the annual Association of Educators of Journalism and Mass Communication. The topic: Witnessing Atrocity. [CLICK HERE to read coverage of our panel, chaired by Meg Spratt, of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, and including the University of Maryland’s Diana Huffman and New York Daily News photographer David Handschuh, also an educator at NYU, whose travails on September 11 I describe in Watching the World Change (pages 16-17 and 353-54).]

Among the highlights:

--Handschuh’s revelation that even though firefighters, police officers, rescue workers, medical-response teams, and many others are receiving compensation for serious health issues that have beset them since 9/11, one group of “first responders” has been denied coverage: journalists who covered the events for weeks on end. Handschuh is attempting to raise awareness of this glaring omission. If any journalist wants to contact him directly, and anonymously, please send me information at dfriend@vf.com and I will pass it along.

--Huffman’s remarks that “the press is the only profession that’s mentioned by name in the Constitution” (a fact that I’d never considered) and her aversion to the notion of “the breakfast-table test” -- her reluctance to accept what many people in the newspaper business contend is the litmus for gauging if an image is too “graphic” for print publication: Would an editor want to run a news photograph if it risked upsetting a family sitting around the breakfast reading the morning paper? My view is that we are running too few of these “graphic photos” in our publications, especially when it comes to imagery related to the war in Iraq. A world view governed by overprotectiveness and sanitized stage sets breed complacency, apathy, and ignorance.

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