The Economist Under Fire Over Editing of Obama Photo

The Economist has admitted that it substantially edited its widely viewed cover picture of Obama. President Obama has been criticized for what is perceived as his detached reaction to the spill for the first few weeks. The cover page showed a solitary Obama in deep contemplation. It was completely manufactured. Not only was Obama not alone in the picture, he was talking to Thad W. Allen of the Coast Guard and Charlotte Randolph, a local parish president. Indeed, his bent figure is not from deep contemplation but apparently listening to the much shorter Randolph.

The picture was shown on the cover of The Economist for June 19th. It was taken on May 28 by a Reuters photographer, Larry Downing. The editing violates Reuters standards — standards that have been strictly enforced since a 2006 scandal involving an enhanced and edited Reuters picture from the Middle East.

Emma Duncan, deputy editor of The Economist, responded and admitted that they edited the photo. However, she does not appear to view it as unethical even though the content and obvious meaning of the photo was changed:

Yes, Charlotte Randolph was edited out of the image (Admiral Allen was removed by the crop). We removed her not to make a political point, but because the presence of an unknown woman would have been puzzling to readers.

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. “The damage beyond the spill” referred to on the cover, and examined in the cover leader, was the damage not to Mr. Obama, but to business in America.

I must say that I have considerable respect for The Economist but that is hardly convincing. First, few people would look at the cover and say “Wow, that really sums up “the damage to business.” Second, and more importantly, the obvious meaning of the photo was substantially altered. The position of the The Economist would rob photojournalists of any status as journalists. If photos can be substantially changed (other than for an obvious joke), why not just Photoshop these images on computers? The Economist took a conference with the President with two officials and turned it into a lonely shot of the President bent down in contemplation. That is obviously a violation of standards in the industry. The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA)states as Rule 6 that “Editing should maintain the integrity of the photographic images’ content and context. Do not manipulate images or add or alter sound in any way that can mislead viewers or misrepresent subjects.” Here both the context and content of the photo was changed. I understand Ms. Randolph’s position and accept that there was not intent to mislead, but it did mislead the reader. The Economist needs to assure both readers and other journalists that this was a lapse in judgment and will not occur again.

Source: NYT

55 thoughts on “The Economist Under Fire Over Editing of Obama Photo”

  1. AY,

    Further proof that Rove, even as a “teacher”, is truly a turdblossom.

  2. Sure it did, Mr. Snappy.

    If it hadn’t, you wouldn’t have replied at all. Or you wouldn’t have replied so weakly and absent thought. Unable to muster a defense except a weak semi-insult drawn from a tangential reference on another thread.

    But you live in that denial all you want. You’re quite good at that. You crave credibility. Your persistence tells me that. But you’ll never have it here. You yourself impeached your character through bad action. The petard you provided. I’m just giving you a hand in the hoisting.

    I’ve stated I will undermine all your attempts to gain credibility and why.

    And that doesn’t bother me a bit.

    I like chew toys.

  3. Buddha,

    Bdaman just finished the accelerated course taught by the media spin mister Herr Karl Rove. I think the last course he finished covered these topics: How to Defame and Not Feel Any Pain, Painless Character Assassination, How to Spread the Guilt and Not Feel Guilty and No Pain for them No Gain for you.

  4. Oooooo. Touched a troll nerve, did I?

    It’s going to haunt you as long as you post here, bdabigot.

    I can guarantee that.

  5. Buddha It doesn’t haunt me, it did, but I’m at peace with it now.

    It obviously still bothers you though and has caused you to have an erection lasting longer than 24 hours. I suggest seeking medical attention. Drinking Yager for medicinal purposes is not recommended.

  6. SWM,

    I am aware of that, I have relatives in Guadalajara. I also am aware that the US turned back in the 30 a number of ships filled with Jews. Some returned back to Nazi Germany and the other dispersed them around the world. Belize was the only country that had an open door policy for immigration. What is sad is a number of Nazi’s lived in exile there as well, the hunter and hunted….

  7. Smom,

    Yes, it does by definition.

    The relevant Webster’s definition of race are:

    2 a : a family, tribe, people, or nation belonging to the same stock b : a class or kind of people unified by shared interests, habits, or characteristics
    3 a : an actually or potentially interbreeding group within a species; also : a taxonomic category (as a subspecies) representing such a group b : breed c : a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits

    All of these apply to a discreet and distinct genetic grouping which the NYT article clearly lays out from their sources. They may have not used the word race, but they used the definition.

  8. Ay There are many hidden Jews particularly from Eastern Europe and Mexico.

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