July 18, 2013

The Erik Wemple Blog today participated in a HuffPost Live discussion of — what else? — the controversial Rolling Stone cover featuring a photograph of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. One of the panelists, Catie Warren, articulated the contra argument, saying that the photo choice was ill-advised, as was the story. She also leveled this charge regarding the art itself: “It’s clearly been Photoshopped or edited.”

Rolling Stone
The offending cover. (Rolling Stone)

Let’s check on that. The Erik Wemple Blog today asked Rolling Stone whether there’d been any such modifications to the photo in question. The credit line at the bottom of the Tsarnaev picture on the Rolling Stone Web site suggests that some tinkering took place. After all, the tagline attributes a photo “illustration” to Sean McCabe.

Here’s what Rolling Stone had to say on the matter:

Because the original photo was a low resolution image, we had to enhance the image slightly for technical purposes so that it would print properly. The photo illustration we used is not significantly different than the original image.

As we pointed out yesterday, this same image graced the front page of the New York Times back in early May. To the naked eye, the presentations look about identical. Rolling Stone’s statement that it enhanced it “slightly,” however, will do absolutely nothing to quiet complaints that the magazine has glorified an alleged terrorist/monster.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.