Wednesday, October 26, 2005

USA Today Alters Condoleezza Rice Photo

This is now common practice, but bloggers have caught USA Today altering a photo of Condoleezza Rice to make her look, well, demonic. Many people have covered the story in the blogosphere; one person who took up the fight the hardest was Michelle Malkin.

The good news is that under pressure from Malkin and others, USA Today has switched the photo to the unaltered version. An editor's note now precedes the article:
Editor's note: The photo of Condoleezza Rice that originally accompanied this story was altered in a manner that did not meet USA TODAY's editorial standards. The photo has been replaced by a properly adjusted copy. Photos published online are routinely cropped for size and adjusted for brightness and sharpness to optimize their appearance. In this case, after sharpening the photo for clarity, the editor brightened a portion of Rice's face, giving her eyes an unnatural appearance. This resulted in a distortion of the original not in keeping with our editorial standards.
I'm a photographer in my spare time and there really is no way that sharpening can have this effect. Here's the unaltered photograph:

Here's the altered version:

Just to check, I loaded the unaltered version and applied way too much sharpening to it.

These are small images, but you can see that while there are horrible artifacts, you don't really get the demon eyes. The altered USA Today image has more pronounced eyes and none of the other sharpening artifacts (look at the cheeks, for example). More on how this can't be sharpening in the Malkin post. Maybe USA Today uses a special Halloween sharpening algorithm? Or maybe, just maybe, the story in USA Today was about the war and the media has an agenda? Nah, can't be.