JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS

A News Blog

Economist Photoshops Obama cover


The June 19 edition of The Economist published on its cover an altered photo of President Obama standing on the shore of a Louisiana beach, The New York Times reported.

The original photo, shot by Reuters photographer Larry Downing, depicts the president standing beside Adm. Thad W. Allen of the Coast Guard and Charlotte Randolph, a local parish president. But the image The Economist ran erased Allen and Randolph so Obama would appear standing alone, "the ideal metaphor for a politically troubled president," the NYT article said.

In a statement to the Times, The Economist's deputy editor Emma Duncan responded: "We often edit the photos we use on our covers, for one of two reasons. Sometimes — as with a cover we ran on 27 March on U.S. health care, with Mr. Obama with a bandage round his head — it's an obvious joke.

"Sometimes — as with an image of President Chavez on May 15 on which we darkened the background, or with our 'It's time' cover endorsing Mr. Obama, from which the background was removed altogether — it is to bring out the central character. 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."

Still, with the headline stating "Obama v BP," Roy Greenslade of The Guardian questions, "am I alone in finding her answer just a little disingenuous?"

Kevin Drum of Mother Jones wrote that The Economist crossed "a line that a news magazine shouldn't cross."