The good folks over at the Economist seem completely content to alter the reality of an image with some really bad justifications for doing so, as outlined over on the New York Times blog - On The Economist’s Cover, Only a Part of the Picture - and we agree that it's just plain wrong to digitally manipulate this image for the cover, or any other reason, for that matter, in an editorial context, without providing very clear indicators that the photo has been manipulated. Heck, why not just photoshop the President swimming into the oil slick?
Paul Melcher has a few good thoughts on this whole retouching mess, in general, in his post - R is for Retouched.
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