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People magazine fudges cover photo

Less than three months after proclaiming higher journalistic standards than its competition, People magazine has published an altered cover image of Hollywood stars Courteney Cox and David Arquette.

Oct. 27 cover of People digitally altered

Next to the banner headline reading, “Courteney & David: Inside Their Marriage,” the celebrities appear to be standing adjacent to each other on the Oct. 27 cover.

But according to Photo District News, a publication for photographic professionals, “the blue sky was digitally created, people have been removed from the background and the two actors’ heads have been moved closer together.”

While some might say that digital alteration is of little concern for an entertainment-oriented magazine, People’s own editor Martha Nelson made it a point this summer to promote integrity in photographs.

“For us it’s really about journalism,” she told USA Today in August. “That’s at the core of what we do.”

In an analysis by Photo District News, reporter Jay Defoore writes, “While it’s true they didn’t combine two photos, the Cox/Arquette cover isn’t exactly the best example of holding high journalistic standards.”

When People was confronted about the fudged photo, magazine spokeswoman Dianne Jones said:

“People magazine would never use images to create a situation that did not exist. While Courtney Cox and David Arquette did appear together in the photo featured on our 10/27/03 cover, they were moved closer to make room for the headlines and the shrubs behind them were extended to improve readability of the text. In retrospect, we would probably reconsider these changes.”