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Posts Tagged ‘Tiananmen Square’

Christian PeacemakingDespite our shared heritage and upbringing, my brother Dan and I see the world from much different perspectives. I watch events with the detachment and analysis of a journalist. Dan, a minister and missionary, experiences the world with the passion of a participant

Our interests have overlapped considerably the past few weeks. I joined several other family members in the Kansas City area May 16, when Dan was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from Central Baptist Theological Seminary (good luck getting your little brother to call you “Dr. Buttry”).

As I wrote recently, I learned after the commencement that Dan was joining me in that large and growing fellowship of cancer survivors (he’s recovering from successful surgery for prostate cancer on Monday; I celebrate 10 years since my successful surgery for colon cancer in August and I’m more than four years past removal of a basal cell skin cancer). 

And when I wrote this week about photojournalists covering the “tank man” of Tiananmen Square, I knew I had to share the story with Dan. (more…)

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I savor every uplifting story about journalism in these difficult times.

My last post dealt, as most of my work and writing today does, with the difficult times in the news industry and in our search for solutions. Sometimes we need stories of great journalism, to fuel our fight for a prosperous future.

I read two such stories this week in the New York TimesLens photojournalism blog.

First Lens recounted the stories of the four photographers who captured the moment 20 years ago when the “tank man” stopped a line of tanks attempting to quell student protests in Tiananmen Square. Their stories are filled with fascinating details about saving film from Chineese authorities, personal risk and protection and transmitting photos in the pre-Internet age.

Even more fascinating, to me, was the Lens story of Terril Jones and the photo he shot moments before the tank confrontation. The other photographs were shot from the balconies of a hotel. Jones was on the ground, fearing for his safety as the tanks approached, firing their guns. In the last shot he fired before fleeing to safety, you see a young man dashing toward the camera, his head ducked in fear. And in the distance, calm amid the uproar, you see a man with a white shirt and two bags, awaiting the oncoming tanks. It’s a compelling story, a compelling moment of premeditation and courage.

Context matters, even 20 years later.

I love hearing the stories behind great photos and these two stories remind me of some other uplifting stories about great photos or videos:

  • My April post, The heart: one of journalism’s best tools, about Allan Thompson’s story in the Toronto Star, identifying the father and daughter in Nick Hughes’ horrifying video of genocide in Rwanda.
  • I remember the evening Gazette photographers spent at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, explaining the stories behind some of the photos in the Year of the River exhibit of Gazette flood photography.
  • National Geographic’s A Life Revealed story about the successful attempt to find the Afghan girl with the haunting green eyes, photographed by Steve McCurry in 1985, who came to symbolize the hard life of Afghan refugees. 
  • One of the best stories of my career was the story of Buddy Bunker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photo The Homecoming, told first in 1997 at the Omaha World-Herald and then again as a multimedia story for GazetteOnline after a home movie surfaced 65 years after the homecoming. 
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