Controversy Erupts Over a Heavily Edited Economist Cover Photo

Economist Cover.jpg

The cover of the latest issue of The Economist has been causing quite a bit of controversy thanks to some heavy editing.  The cover features Barack Obama standing on a beach and looking downward while an oil rig looms in front of him.  He looks disheartened, and even defeated.

In the original picture though, two people were standing next to the president.  One was simply cropped out of the photo, but the other was edited out to show a lone Obama.  It's also unclear in the original picture if the president is leaning downward to hear the woman he's talking to - who is significantly shorter - or if he really is hanging his head.

The changed picture certainly changes the mood of the photograph, but it also changed the mood of Reuters, who licensed the picture to The Economist.  "Reuters has a strict policy against modifying, removing, adding to or altering any of its photographs without first obtaining the permission of Reuters," said Thompson Reuters. 

"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," replied The Economist's Emma Duncan.  "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."

The web version of the story is currently up on The Economist with an image that's cropped in much farther.