April, 2010 featured article
One Picture That Changed Our World
by Jonah Huang, age 18
On June 5, 1989, a single man stood defiantly in front of several
tanks that had been ordered to gun down protestors in Tiananmen Square.
The unidentified protestor was pulled away by bystanders moments before
He was never seen again.
This man’s legendary actions became the subject of one of the most
famous photos in the history of journalism.
Jeff Widener, the photojournalist who took the picture, worked at
the time for the Associated Press. He describes the photograph as “the
shot I almost blew.”
Of the three shots he took, only one came out—and it was blurry.
But the photo was clear enough to be used in over 6,000 publications
around the world the day after it was taken.
Taking the photo was the easy part. The hard part was evading
heavily armed security police and finding a safe location to use his
camera. To prevent Western journalists from documenting the devastating
violence, Chinese officials had deployed white-suited security guards in
the area where pro-democracy protests were happening.
Widener recalls smuggling a camera into a nearby hotel where, with
the covert help of a college student, Widener could bypass security
guards and go up to the roof of a hotel. There, above Beijing’s Canyon
Boulevard, he waited. Several hours passed before Widener witnessed a
scene that would stir the world into action.
Widener’s photo is a powerful representation of the infamous
Tiananmen Square protests. The severity of the violence, along with the
communist Chinese government’s secrecy, has provoked and angered
millions of people around the world. Even two decades later, people
still feel the effects of these demonstrations. Despite many changes,
those who participated in the Chinese movement for democracy are still
feeling heat from their country’s Communist government.
Shou Yongjun, a former student leader of the Chinese pro-democracy
movement in 1989, was recently arrested and covertly detained in
southern China. During the 1989 protests, Yongjun famously knelt on the
steps of the Great Hall of the People, located in Tiananmen Square,
pleading for political freedom.
Now a permanent resident of the United States, officers arrested
Yongjun when he tried to cross into Mainland China from Hong Kong to see
his parents. He was detained on fraud charges for more than six months.
Whether or not Yongju’s arrest is tied to his past political
activity is up for speculation. Regardless, suspicions are rising.
Despite many changes in China over the past twenty years, Chinese
authorities still hold grudges over the violent protests of 1989. Today,
instead of using tanks, they impose detainment.
Nonetheless, Widener’s now famous photograph represents a shining
example of good journalism. This one picture demonstrates the power of
the pen – of in this case, a dedicated journalist’s camera.
[Source: USA Today]