The cover of The Economist depicted a solitary President Obama on the Louisiana beach inspecting the oil spill

The original photo, shot by Reuters photographer Larry Downing shows Coast Guard Admiral Thad W. Allen and Charlotte Randolph, a local parish president, standing alongside the President. A Reuters spokesperson stated that "Reuters has a strict policy against modifying, removing, adding to or altering any of its photographs without first obtaining the permission of Reuters and, where necessary, the third parties referred to." In response, Emma Duncan, deputy editor of The Economist, stated: "I was editing the paper the week we ran the image of President Obama with the oil rig in the background. Yes, Charlotte Randolph was edited out of the image (Admiral Allen was removed by the crop). We removed her not to make a political point, but because the presence of an unknown woman would have been puzzling to readers. We often edit the photos we use on our covers, for one of two reasons. Sometimes - as with a cover we ran on March 27 on U.S. health care, with Mr. Obama with a bandage round his head - it's an obvious joke. Sometimes - as with an image of President Chavez on May 15 on which we darkened the background, or with our "Its time" cover endorsing Mr. Obama, from which the background was removed altogether - it is to bring out the central character. We don't edit photos in order to mislead. I asked for Ms. Randolph to be removed because I wanted readers to focus on Mr. Obama, not because I wanted to make him look isolated. That wasn't the point of the story. "The damage beyond the spill" referred to on the cover, and examined in the cover leader, was the damage not to Mr. Obama, but to business in America."
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