Just as she’s gearing up for her new job as anchor of the “CBS Evening News,” Katie Couric has been digitally slimmed down in a magazine photo.
Staffers in the photo department of Watch!, a CBS promotional magazine distributed through American Airlines, digitally airbrushed Couric to make her appear thinner, shaving inches off her waist, arms and legs.
The former “Today” show host was unaware of the digitally reworked photo until its publication.
CBS News President Sean McManus told the Associated Press that he was “obviously surprised and disappointed when I heard about it” earlier this week.
Gil Schwartz, executive vice president of communications for CBS Corp., admitted to the AP that someone in the CBS photo department “got a little zealous,” but added that no one would lose their job over the incident.
“I talked to my photo department, we had a discussion about it,” Schwartz said. “I think photo understands this is not something we’d do in the future.”
The practice of digitally altering photos is widespread in the magazine business, but several high profile cases have caused embarrassment for editorial staffs in recent years and fed the public’s growing distrust of the media. The editor of Newsweek apologized in 2005 for a cover illustration that used Martha Stewart’s head on a model’s body, a move he called “just dumb and badly executed.” Back in 2003, the editor of British GQ admitted that a cover photo of actress Kate Winslet had been digitally altered to make her appear thinner. “Practically every photo you see in a magazine will have been digitally altered in this way,” editor Dylan Jones asserted at the time.
The latest CBS photo faux pas does not seem to rise to the level of last month’s controversy over a Reuters stringer who digitally altered at least two photos from the war in Lebanon. The news of the manipulation touched off a storm of controversy and resulted in the photographer’s dismissal and the removal of all of his images from the company’s archives.
So far the strategy at CBS seems to be to laugh it off.
“I’ve asked that 3 inches in height be added to my official CBS photo,” McManus quipped to the New York Daily News, which broke the story.
“I liked the first picture better because there’s more of me to love,” the 49-year-old Couric told the paper.