Monday, December 08, 2008

Ricky Flores & Lori Grinkler: The Jew and the Puerto Rican

In addition to the world-famous image shot by Thomas Franklin of three New York City firemen raising an American flag amid the tumult of Ground Zero on the afternoon of September 11th, 2001, two other professional photographers happened to snap an image of the same scene. Freelancer Lori Grinker, from the agency Contact Press Images, and Ricky Flores, staff photographer for The Journal News of Westchester, captured almost exactly the same moment, albeit from a different angle and vantage point, which alas for them, did not become a penny stamp.

Her page at Contact with the "selected" image:

Ricky Flores' image, seen below, was used to illustrate an article in The Digital Journalist, titled America's Darkest Day by David Friend, which went online on Oct. 13, 2001; and on a National Press Photographers Association page, 'Witness To Tragedy,' which coincidentally also was posted online on Oct 13, 2001. His work never seems to have made it into his actual employer, The Journal News.

I find both of these photographer's work to be suspect because Flores has only this single image taken on 9/11 in the record, as available on Google, while Grinker has all of only two images, the flag-raising, and the image below, which was used as a home-page illustration for the year 2001 by her agency, Contact Press Images, on a page which made its first appearance online on Sep 03, 2004 according to

(Too bad Fireman Balducci doesn't offer us a testimony. I'd be interested in what he has to say.)

The purpose of Flores' and Grinker's images, in my opinion, would be to buttress and support the truly iconic, but sadly fraudulent, work of Thomas Franklin, who was traveling around Ground Zero that day with the award-winning photographer James Nachwey, who somehow missed the shot.

Grinker's work helps us place the scene as taking place to the west of West Street, directly in front of WFC 2; however, in her second shot she is clearly on the second floor and Franklin says he took his shot from the street shooting upwards, so I suppose Grinker traveled to a higher floor to get the image of the firemen.

Contact Press Images says,
"Based in New York, Lori Grinker began making her way to the site of the destruction moments after the crash of the first plane. By the time she arrived both towers had collapsed and the entire area had been transformed into a smoldering field of ruins. From the second floor of the still standing World Financial Center, Grinker noticed a group of firemen hoisting an American flag while she was photographing the wreckage. The selected image has since become iconic, symbolizing resilience in the face of adversity."
We can know this to be false to a high degree of certainty because of the numerous reports of a perimeter being established before this time by law enforcement. Even the privileged Franklin says he was almost arrested a half dozen times that day. It is unlikely if the uncredentialed Grinker made it into a damaged office building beside the collapsed World Trade Center towers to take all of two images. Her agency bio states:

"Lori Grinker was born in 1957 in Freeport, New York, USA. While still a student at Parsons School of Design, she began her photographic career documenting the rise of the 13-year old future heavyweight championship boxer Mike Tyson. She joined Contact Press Images in 1988. Since then, in addition to her reportage of events such as the destruction of the World Trade Center, she has delved into long-term book projects including The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women (Jewish Publication Society), and most recently, Afterwar: Veterans from a World in Conflict (de.MO 2004), her 16-year project on veterans of the last century. She is based in New York City."

The NPPA article says Flores, like Grinker, was far away when the planes crashed:

"I was on the Bronx-Manhattan bridge crossing trying to get past cops who were redirecting traffic away from Manhattan when the first tower fell. I finally found one who let me pass and as the second building fell and overwhelming sense of despair and shock began to set in. Around Canal Street NYPD had already begun to setup some sort of perimeter to the site.

I was able to park and find a way in. I remember the utter chaos around the perimeter, with a host of emergency vehicles making it's way down towards the World Trade Center. I also remember that past that point somewhere between that perimeter and the actual site that the streets were completely empty and silent and covered with this chalky white dust."
But Flores makes explicit he was on the second floor, leaving Franklin to crawl into a low ditch somewhere:

"When I took the photo of the firemen raising the flag in front of the World Financial Center from a second floor window, it felt like it was the bare glimmer from the rescue workers that they were beginning to get a grasp and a comprehension of what had taken place. I knew that what I saw was different from everything else that I saw that day, but if you had asked me if it was the most significant I would not have been a been able to give you an answer."

I guess not. In addition to David Friend's page, Ricky Flores has a page at The Digital Journalist called REFLECTIONS New York City, from August 2003, where even the photographer gets photographed. The piece unfortunately for Flores uses the Jayson Blair scandal as a literary device.

Another piece about Flores, in the Boricua News, called, Witness to Tragedy, from December 2001, would have appeared more professional had they spelled "Photograher," correctly.

Given the admittedly limited reach of Google research, as the public record now stands, it is absurd that these two were supposedly on the scene on 9/11 and only came away with these measly images, meant as a sort of validation of another low-rent screw-ball insider news photographer. Further damnation of the entire profession of "non-fiction" photography---as if we needed any more proof of their cupidity and guile. Phooey I say!
There is no angle or shot as composed in the Thomas Franklin picture. It is entirely a product of Photoshop. The same is true of the Grinker and Flores images. Manufactured frauds beyond a reasonable doubt.

On edit 1/4/09: Please see The "Suppressed" History of Thomas Franklin's "Instant" Symbol for further complications to the story, which only serve to strand the Lori & Ricky Show on the second floor of Number Two World Financial Center shooting at the dusty breeze.

In an article in the New Jersey News on October 2, 2001, Flag in noted photo flying on ship leading U.S. fleet, staff writer Elise Young writes,
Franklin was near the trade center's ruined Building Seven when he spotted Firefighters Dan McWilliams, George Johnson, and Billy Eisengrein raising the flag on a pole plucked from a yacht. The men had anchored the flagpole in rubble about 20 feet above West Street.
She goes on to say, "McWilliams said he and other rescuers were frustrated after digging for six hours and finding no survivors." This is of course, completely bogus, as no search or rescue was undertaken until Building 7 collapsed at 5:30pm, and until the remains of Tower Two were blown 24 hours after that. No digging. No bucket brigades. I suppose these three firemen could be credited with abstaining from their fellow's massive, wholesale looting, which was what the firemen really did under cover of darkness.


  1. And who's the person who said to the three firemen "hey, you guys go raise the flag there" and said to the three photographers, "okay we're ready for you to shoot this scene"?

  2. hmmm...I sense you may be on my side...


  3. You're a fucken asshole. Just to be clear, NOT ON YOUR SIDE.

  4. I shouldn't think you so Ricky. I am sorry for the hurt I cause.

  5. The photos are real - especially Ricky's.. And down in lower Manhattan, there's a museaum with hundreds more photos of the scene.
    Why you would demean people - the living and the dead - is beyond me. I feel for you

  6. Mr. Warren, not sure what you are trying to say, but Ricky Flores' photo - you posted above - was nominated for the Pulitzer by The Journal News - and are you SURE the paper did not use the photo? Are you a subscriber, before and after 9/11. With your blog subtitle - Non-violence ...I think you are very combative using words. You sound like a conspiracy theorist, some excellent documentaries have used science to proove the scenarios you suggest (ie: Pentagon explosives - columns) are not the realities. Get a life and have a nice da.

  7. No, I am not SURE the Journal News did not use the photo. I clearly said "Given the admittedly limited reach of Google research," regarding the satnding of the image in the public record. You profer "nominated for the Pulitzer by The Journal News" as though that was supposed to MEAN something. As if that weren't another corrupt component of a totally corrupt system.

    You're not sure what I'm trying to say? (And the name is WARRAN, by the way, Mr Journalistic integrity.) I'm saying the image is corrupt--fraudulent, photoshopped, faked. (And repetitive too, for that matter.)

    Why did you come visit me, Danbury, CT,, after a string of similiar visits, all directed from Facebook?

    12:24pm Bronx, NY
    11:00pm Milwaukee WI
    10.56PM Brooklyn NY
    10:54pm Fresh Meadows
    10.37pm NY,NY
    10:30pm Purchase, NY
    10:26pm Westfield NJ
    10:18pm Brooklyn, NY
    10.16pm White Plains
    9:59pm White Plains
    9:49pm West Chester
    9:45pm West Hartford CT
    9:44pm Nyack, NY
    9:43pm New Rochelle NY
    9:40pm NY, NY
    9:11pm NY, NY
    9:09pm Astoria, NY
    9:08pm Russell, Ontario
    9:01pm Peekskill, NY

    Oh! I get it! from Purchase, NY is a Gannett IP.

    Why don't you just do the best you can in these trying circumstances? Like the extraordinary work published in USAToday on the first anniversary of 9-11?

    Fir you to say, " You sound like a conspiracy theorist, some excellent documentaries have used science to proove the scenarios you suggest (ie: Pentagon explosives - columns) are not the realities." just means you are a first-class asshole. Get a life indeed!

  8. I was a photo editor working for the Journal News on 9/11, and I was at the office when Ricky called in from ground zero with news of this photo. I was also in the office when he brought back his raw images. The photo ran on the cover the next day. The images were not altered in any way. This is why bloggers suck. You did absolutely NO research before making your ridiculous assumptions and now this will be on the internet forever.

  9. So, Amanda, Ricky called in from Ground Zero with "news of this photo?" That would be during the period cell phones were down, yes? Or are you saying he found a land line? This is after he navigated down two police cordons.

    You were "a photo editor," and not "the photo editor" who made the decision to run the image. Kind of funny, isn't it, that so many photographers captured that heavily promoted event.

    Amanda, if my "ridiculous assumptions" (and I've done scores of other blogs on media figures) lack truth or reason, than they will fall by the wayside. But every act and action of you and yours tells me I've struck truth paydirt here.

    I don't have to spell out why I think third-rate photo editors suck. Get with the program, or else, sliiiice-CHOP!

    Heads coming off you know. I got no sympathy for the little guys.

  10. Allow me to set the record straight, Mr. Warran, and assure you that Amanda Benjamin is indeed correct. I was a managing editor and front-page editor at The Journal News for 11 years, and I made Ricky's shot into a "poster"-style 1A for our Tuesday-morning paper (my leftover mockups I created using wire images available before our crew made the approx. 20-mile drive back to White Plains can attest to that).

    On 9/11, I was in Montreal on vacation when I saw the attacks unfold on CNN (what else does a journalist do on vacation but tune in to the news). I drove back to our White Plains newsroom, sketching front page ideas on a pad along the way (meantime, Melissa Myers was creating an "extra" edition for midday sale). When I got the office around 4 p.m., I began mocking up a photo-only cover that our editor, Henry Freeman, agreed to. We just needed the right image; when we heard that Ricky's gotten a shot of the flag being raised at GZ, we were set. I can assure you that I won't forget the image of Ricky coming back to our newsroom covered in white dust from head to toe.

    I executed seven straight days of our 9/11 front pages (you can view them here:, and on the eighth day oversaw and executed our voluminous wire coverage (at least four open pages). Meantime, Ricky and the rest of our reporters and photographers (many of whom lived in NYC, and many who volunteered with local fire departments in Westchester County) ventured time and again into and around Ground Zero with zero thought for their personal safety. To the rest of the world, that was an attack on the U.S.; to us, it was an attack on our home ... our friends, family and coworkers (I can't tell you how many NYC fire, police and other rescue personnel reside in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties ... where The Journal News circulates). In the end, our relatively small staff (compared with the likes of the WSJ, NYT, NYDN, NYP, USAT, etc.) earned a first-place award for our coverage from none other than the Deadline Club ... the New York chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. From what I'm told, jaws fairly well dropped when that award was presented to JN editors representing us at the ceremony.

    In sum, Ricky Flores, as well as his fellow JN fotogs Steven Schmitt, Seth Harrison, Matthew Brown, Mark Vergari, Peter Carr, Vincent DiSalvio, and Kathy Gardner, as well as dozens of reporters (you can find their bylines online) and every dayside and nightside editor put forth a Pulitzer effort during those weeks when we raced around the newsroom. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we're all proud to have Ricky's image stand as the icon of all the work we did to convey the enormity of 9/11 to our loyal readers.

    Geoffrey Giordano
    Former assistant managing editor
    and front-page editor
    The Journal News, 1995-2005

  11. Hahahahahahaha, Warren got owned, you are an idiot.