Altered photos in the news.

My household gets a delivery of The Economist magazine. Sometime I only skim a few pages but I always think of this publication as a resource for straightforward, accurate, apolitical news reporting.

Same with Reuters, a news outlet known for running its photographs unedited. No use of Photoshop is allowed to alter the image or change its intended meaning.

A story today in Media Decoder questions a Reuters photograph used by The Economist in its June 19 issue. The photo shows President Obama standing alone in front of the Gulf of Mexico, head down as if in contemplation. It’s a striking image on that mid-June cover, and one that inspired me to flip more closely the magazine a few weeks ago.

The issue being ballyhooed is that the original Reuters photo shows two people alongside Obama. They were edited out by The Economist and replaced with an extended blue ocean. In her defense, the deputy editor stated, “We don’t edit photos in order to mislead. I asked for Ms. Randolph to be removed because I wanted readers to focus on Mr. Obama, not because I wanted to make him look isolated. That wasn’t the point of the story.”

Personally, I don’t have a problem with this kind of photo-editing. (Hey, that’s why Content Aware Fill was developed in Photoshop CS5.) Obama was standing in front of the Gulf of Mexico, talking about the BP oil spill, which is the subject of this Economist article. If Obama had been in front of a different ocean for a different occasion, then photo’s message would have been distorted. In this case, editing the photo only heightens its impact and intensifies the message.

What is your thought?

regards -debbie

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