One of the funniest design-related blogs around is Photoshop Disasters, which collects examples of shockingly shoddy or slapdash retouching from newspapers, magazines and Web sites around the world. One surprising serial offender is the Daily Mail, which regularly finds time between running scare stories about immigrants, the EU and anything that smells even a little bit foreign -- and classifing everything in the world as causing or curing cancer -- to publish a catalogue of how not to use Photoshop.
These aren't genuine mistakes, small errors, or even attempts to make women into anatomically improbable 'babes' to boost readership (like Zoo, which also makes a regular appearance on the blog). It seems like a genuine desire to improve the composition of its photography, which in a news publication leads you towards dangerous territory.
While comping the reporter on a horse into a fluffy article about polo isn't that bad -- though stupid if you do it poorly and place the original image he's been cut out from directly below -- if you start messing around with images from direct reporting, then you've left the grey area of journalistic ethics and headed straight for the Dark Side.
It looks like staff at the Daily Hate have been paying attention to this blog and removed some of the more comical examples, but luckily they're still here and here on Photoshop Disasters for your viewing please.
There is a serious point here. Wide and poor use of photoshopping denigrates the power of news photography, and while serious abuses are generally picked up and corrected, it makes readers less likely to believe what they see.
However, this is a good thing. Readers shouldn't trust news photographs. Even if what they show is 100 per cent accurate, it's only representative of what you can see at that moment in time. How often do you see a photo of a politician or celebrity looking bored or miserable used to back up a story about them being unhappy throughout an occasion. Are we expected to think that they really looked like that for the whole time? The sooner we all regard news photos as illustrations or art, the better. I'm not belittling their value -- news photographs can often be more artistically powerful than words, such as with this classic example -- but it's just more honest.