Left: Economist cover with doctored photo.
Center: Undoctored photo (Larry Downing/Reuters).
Right: Undoctored photo superimposed on cover.
Once again, another Photoshop nightmare. The Economist cropped and cloned a perfectly good image in order to achieve dramatic effect for their cover story on Obama and the BP oil spill. In a way it’s no big deal–no harm no foul–you might say. But…
Once again, a predetermined editorial narrative drives the ethical train wreck. It’s not a photograph–a slice of messy reality–it’s an illustration used to convey a point of view. That’s the crux of the problem. Not which pixels were cloned, or what extraneous details were cropped out. It’s the notion that photographs are not in themselves enough. They are too raw, too vague, too allusive. Too real.
Maybe this is what the editors were suggesting.