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Unflattering cover photo prompts New York Times correction  
Friday, March 17, 2006 | by Eamon Hickey

The New York Times web site has posted a correction for the cover photo from last Sunday's Times Magazine.

The picture is a portrait of potential U.S. presidential candidate Mark Warner, done in an almost satirical fine-art style. It distorts the colors of Warner's outfit, making him appear to be wearing a maroon jacket with a pink shirt. Beyond the color errors, lens selection and perhaps other shooting or processing decisions result in Warner's facial features being distorted.

The Times correction, which can be found at the bottom of this page, says, "In this case, the film that was used can cause colors to shift, and the processing altered them further; the change escaped notice because of a misunderstanding by the editors."

The U.S. National Public Radio (NPR) has posted the cover with the photograph plus a streaming audio interview with Times photo editor Kathy Ryan, who expresses regret for deciding to use the picture. The interview is not exactly confrontational, but the NPR reporter is clearly dubious of the notion that the look of this picture came about by the innocuous use of unusual film, as the Times correction comes close to saying.

Without specifically connecting her comments to this photo, Ryan also talks about the desire of The Times to publish interesting, unusual, or provocative pictures and how that can conflict with a straightforward journalistic mission.

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