One of the nastiest things that the alleged profession of journalism has been caught doing is photoshopping pictures to engage the prejudices of their readers. Probably the most famous of these was when TIME was caught darkening the appearance of OJ Simpson's mugshot during his murder trial.
In June of 1994, in the midst of OJ Simpson’s murder trial, both TIME magazine and Newsweek featured Simpson’s mugshot on their covers.
The two magazines were placed side by side on newsstands and the public immediately saw that TIME’s cover had considerably darkened Simpson’s skin. The photo, representing a case already laced with racial tension, caused massive public outcry.
In this they walk in lockstep with the sorts of sleazy tricks played by political advertising geniuses such as those that tried to play on racial prejudice in opposing President Obama.
Campaign ads have used darker images of Obama to appeal to voters' racial prejudice, a new study has revealed.
Researchers analyzed 126 ads from the campaign in 2008, and found that digital editing had changed the appearances of both Barack Obama and Republican opponent John McCain.
Sometimes they appeared more washed out, but the McCain campaign often used images in which Obama's skin appeared darker when they were attempting to link him with crime.
I was struck by the image used recently on STAT to head an article on the Director of the NIAAA, George Koob*.
Looks kinda sinister to me. The article, by Sharon Begley and Andrew Joseph, is one of a pair (so far) of articles which appear to be accusing Koob of being under the sway of the beverage industry to the extent that it is influencing what grants he approves for funding as NIAAA Director. That's a topic for another post, perhaps, but the issue of today is the sleazy way that the alleged profession of journalism is fully willing to use pictures to create an impression consistent with their accusations. Just the way TIME did with the OJ mugshot. Just the way Republican political operatives did with pictures of President Obama.
The goal is to engage the prejudices of the reader so as to push them down the road to believing the case that you are supposedly making on more objective grounds.
You can compare the distribution of Koob's appearances to the one included in the STAT piece for yourself.
Now, where did STAT get the image? STAT credits it to themselves as an "illustration" and it looks sourced from an AP credited photo from this article in japantimes.com. So yes, presumably their art department combed the web to find the picture that they wanted to use, selecting it from among all the available pictures of their subject, and then pshopped it into this "illustration".
Point being that they chose this particular image out of many. It's intentional.
*Disclaimer: I've been professionally acquainted with Koob since about 1991, at times fairly well-acquainted. I've heard him hold forth on the problems of alcohol and other substance misuse/dependence/addiction numerous times and have read a fair number of his reviews. I find him to be a pretty good guy, overall, with a keen intent to reduce the suffering associated with alcoholism and other substance dependencies. These recent accusations that he is somehow under the sway of the beverage industry strike me as really discordant with my experience of him over the past 27 years. Take my comments on this topic with that in mind.