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June 25, 2009

TIME Cover:Iran vs. Iran vs. Iran

Time Iran vs. Iran.jpg

Honestly, after posting the similarly-situated Economist Iran cover earlier this week, I mostly skipped over the latest from TIME. After catching Daryl Lang’s post and reader comments at PDN, however, I got a lot more interested.

Lang and the PDN readership chose to concentrate on the technical and ethical questions of why TIME cryptically labeled the cover as “digitally altered.” Writes PDN commenter TC:

Why did Time not call this picture a “photo illustration” and be done with it? If this image was as “digitally altered” as it looks (to me) to be then it has no business being called a news photo. As a former picture editor my yardstick has always been — levels, curves (contrast control), dodging, burning and color correction is OK, anything beyond is forbidden for a news photograph. Once you cross that line you lose credibility for everything you do forward.

I’m wondering what compelled TIME to make a collage for the cover in the first place? Besides not knowing where one image ends and the other begins, I don’t understand the narrative. Is there an “up-front” message here about gender? Is there a significance to the fact the two protesters, back-to-back, are juxtaposed with the group of men, left, mostly hanging around? And, what’s up with those fingers?

Finally, with real images so hard to come by, and with the truth being what this struggle is about, what message does TIME send in creating it’s own version of the reality — one most readers would not even consciously realize has been altered?

(Note: According to Lang, the cover credit originally stated: “Photograph from Sipa Press. Digitally Altered.” The credit, as I found it on the TIME website this morning, appears below.)


  • elfpix

    It’s a just fine illustration. They were clear that it was a composite. Everything in it represents essential parts of what’s going on – religion vs. modernism, the prominence of women, the importance to the movement of a desire for peace with the wider world. I don’t see a problem.

  • Rima

    I was struck by the juxtaposition of this image with the one above, of Michael Jackson. The similarity of pose, a feeling of abandon, the background of swirling smoke/clouds. Probably no parallel beyond that. But still,…

  • lytom

    Events and Propaganda as presented by the MSM. All the posters with signs in English, and slogans that point to the western origins, thousands of balloons planned to be released, and signs freely displayed do not remind of the futility and suspicion how in the police type environment, these perfectly printed posters can be shown in such a quantity. Connections to the outside sources are indicated… Planning strategies reflect not so much Iranian ingenuity, but are close to western public relation propaganda sources and advisers.
    Again, questions about who would benefit from the chaos in Iran and who would seize the opportunity to contribute to it and then invade to “help” the dissenters or just exploit the situation for the benefit splitting and weakening the country.
    It is no longer a concern of nuclear threat, but of protecting the rights, that would affect the western public to support covert and overt actions from US and maybe Allies.
    Would empire managed crisis in Iran for the benefit of Iranians?

  • yg

    i figured insecure men wouldn’t like this portrait. they would find petty, superficial reasons to nitpick the cover instead of addressing the real reason for their discomfort.
    daryl lang was the one who went overboard and ridiculously overpraised the “pink skivvies in afghanistan” portrait as (ooh) iconic. please.
    men in pink underwear, he likes. women exhibiting breath-taking courage in standing up for their rights? not so much.

  • lytom

    While all the outpouring goes for Iran, where are the well wishers when it comes to the arrest by military of the Honduran president?
    Methinks there is much silence in the empire when evil works for it…
    Sound of silence is bit awful in many instances!

  • johanna

    I knew there would be someone standing up for the regime of the ayatollahs, who two days ago hanged six people (thought to be demonstrators) in Evin prison. Who would benefit, you ask, in that stage voice??? Well, how about Iranian women who are harrassed by the “morality police” (unemployed thuggish guys on motorcycles who get their kicks from intimidating women), the pitiful few remaining Jews there, people who want to do business without paying the rakeoff required by the corrupt billionaire mullahs, people who want to come into the country to visit relatives without being thrown in prison, to name but a few groups who benefit from any possibility that this corrupt gang who control the country could be overthrown.

  • Hossein Naeini

    at that time ” HAMSHAHRI JAVAN” one of the greatest magazines of Iran typed on the cover ” Iran , Pray , Peace .
    Iran never is vs. Iran . But TIME wanted to say : Im here and I can speak!

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