FDNY: Death as a Footnote

Lt. Gordon Matthew Ambelas


Lt. Ambelas, assigned to Ladder 119, was killed fighting  a high-rise fire in Williamsburg.

His death barely makes the front page of the New York Times, effectively buried as a footnote.

In the “New York/Region” section where you would surely expect greater notice it is the ninth story down under “More News in the Region”.

More news, indeed.

Among those eight stories above Ambelas’s death on behalf of New Yorkers is:

– The loss of a coffee shop and its home fries

– How the owner of a nail salon spends her time off

– Why Jamaica, Queens is named Jamaica.

A Non-Event?

For the Times his death is a non-event where the loss of fried potatoes takes precedence.

Was the Times so short staffed last night that they could not make a few phone calls or arrange to bump the story up on the web site?

Or is the death of a “public servant” in New York so boringly commonplace that he got what he deserved?

How We Treat It

When someone dies, especially heroically and on behalf of others, there is the death itself, but there is also the issue of how we treat it.

They are two distinct events.

His death is an immutable fact; how we treat it is a statement of our collective character.

The New York Times coverage of the passing of Lt. Gordon Matthew Ambelas is disgraceful.



  • Victoria Huckenpahler says:

    I agree. V

  • Clive Beale says:

    this is disgraceful he put his life on the line every time he answered a call and this is how your newspaper deals with it shame on them

  • Smitty says:

    Each of us who has lost a love one can relate to that loss being at best a footnote in the lives of those unknown to the deceased. That’s understandable. However, the loss of a hero in the course of his or her duties deserves acknowledgment, respect, and appreciation from all of us. You are quite right, and we thank you for pointing out the callousness of the New York Times. Thank you also for reminding them and all of us that the way “news” is reported reflects badly or well upon our society. I’d almost prefer that the Times editors made the very bad decision in the placement of this story. Unfortunately, I think it’s worse than that. I don’t think it was a decision at all. I think it was simply a mindless positioning of words on paper (or web).

  • Jackson says:

    Thanks , I woke this mourning and heard this story on the news and went to learn more in the NY Times and was shocked it was not the lead story in any section . As a retired NYC Firefighter who has been to many many funerals of fellow firefighters this touched a very sore spot in my heart . I always thought the times was the number one paper and now all has changed . Shame on the NY Times

  • Ron Ayotte says:

    All I can say is… disgraceful.

  • P Dolan says:

    It didn’t happen in the subway. It wasn’t terrorist related. It didn’t happen in Manhattan. Go figure.

  • P Dolan says:

    It didn’t happen in the subway. It didn’t happen in Manhattan. It wasn’t terrorist related. Go figure!

  • ProSay says:

    You people miss the bigger point: the NY Times has an agenda, that is, to be the ‘house organ,’ if you will, for the Liberal Left in this country. Why you expect it to cover the death of a heroic fireman…or why you even read or refer to that ‘paper’…. is beyond me.

    Right now, the Times is tied up trying to justify the invasion of thousands…if not hundreds of thousands…of illegal immigrant children coming to schools in your neighborhoods. And the only story coming out of NYC that THEY want to hear is deBlasio the Mayor saying, “come on up!” And if he wants the Times’ endorsement, he will say it. DeBlasio will go to the funeral, cry crocodile tears, say something to the press using the words, “hero” etc., to describe the Lt., but all the while worrying about his next stop on his schedule to rally support for one of his upcoming government giveaways.

    The deaths of firemen and cops in this country will soon become a non-story to the mainstream media, and we will be left to morn within ourselves. Get ready for it.

  • don uebel says:

    I am a retired FDNY captain and have been to many line-of-duty funerals and I do not care what is or is not news worthy to the ny times …the men of the FDNY will take care of ourselves and our brothers families; we got something the ny times people will never have, can not have and will never understand – we will stand above.

    • Eric Lamar says:

      Excuse me for stating the excruciatingly obvious, but if you REALLY didn’t care, you would have ignored the post.

  • Albert J Cerrato says:

    I am retired Battalion Chief Yonkers, NY. I trained on Welfare Island, FDNY Academy at the time, and as everyone here knows, the Times is above routine, as they see it, fires. It is funny but we had the same problem in Yonkers, with the Herald Statesman, and a buff photographer hung around our Firehouse, however when he got the job with the Herald we had an in. Although he took artsy type photos, which drove me nuts. He would line up a discarded tire and take the photo through that or things like that. Eventually he got a darkroom in the basement of our firehouse and he was then hired by Associated Press, and he won worldwide awards. We never seen a thing in New York Papers unless it was controversial, multiple deaths, our 2 day strike etc. A am retired now, 26 years, still remember my training from FDNY, and attended a funeral and went to the Randalls Island Academy for my 9-11 cartharis, and the pit when it was below ground. Recently I took photo’s of the Trident bike run from NY to Ft. Pierce Navy Seal Museum, and sent them to the NY Post. The photo guy there was excellent, Joey, and I told him a Firefighter told me that day that the Post hates the FDNY, he said that is bs., and did all he could to get the photos in. It was only a bike ride and with world events like they are, it was canned. However when Lt. Ambelas died, LODD, they covered it beautifully along with a Editorial about Firefighters, so did the News, I subscribe to the Post, living in Florida now, I want my NY connection. I called them and thanked them for their coverage and sent a letter to the editor too. So the rumors about the Post are bs, the times, is an intellectual paper so to speak, and they just don’t cover the working people and especially the FDNY. The Daily News which I like, and it had an excellent story, but they will not put the American Flag on their paper like the Post, so screw them among other things. So Captain Uebel and many others, we know who we are, and like you said, they could never understand the Brotherhood, although not perfect, it is in your blood, and always will be.

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