Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
October 5, 2014

Hindsight and News Photography: On a Bio-Hazardous Dallas Balcony

Unfortunately, one thing news photography is good at is second-guessing, especially when it comes to homeland security. It goes with the territory when you’re freezing moments in time. Yes, upon his first visit to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, the Liberian visitor, Thomas Duncan, was sent home. Still, hindsight’s 20-20. We’re talking about a busy Dallas emergency room. It doesn’t matter how well-trained and prepared safety and health workers are; having hardly seen an Ebola case in the United States before, Duncan (think the Mohammed Atta security camera photo) was more like a needle in a haystack.

I’ve been interested in the balcony shots outside the Dallas apartment where Duncan was staying. What’s as terrifying as anything a week after his case was discovered (along with the consternation it’s now causing nationwide) is what we see from this telephoto shot as late as Thursday from the visual press camped outside.  It wasn’t until Friday that the apartment entrance was protected and came to look more properly like a bio-hazard zone.

That being the case, what we can say in hindsight is that the photo up top likely captures the world’s most auspicious delivery run.

(photo 1: Mike Stone/Reuters. caption: A man passes a bag, delivered by the Red Cross and the North Texas Food Bank, in to the apartment unit at The Ivy Apartments complex where a man diagnosed with the Ebola virus was staying in Dallas, October 2, 2014.  photo 2: Larry Smith/EPA caption: Hazardous material workers hung plastic to cover the front door of the apartment where Thomas Duncan had stayed in Dallas.)

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