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Glenn Halbrooks

ESPN Blasted for Turning Michael Vick's Skin White in Photograph

By August 29, 2011

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Magazine editors should know that doctoring a celebrity's photograph is never a good idea -- especially when skin color is involved. Yet ESPN The Magazine is willing to take the heat of harsh criticism by altering a photo of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick to show what he would look like as a white man.

A photo of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick
Should altering a person's race in a photograph be off-limits in media?
Photo © Getty Images
The image appears with an story titled "What if Michael Vick Were White?", so there's a reason ESPN made its choice. The article, written by Toure, explores how Vick's life might have been different had his skin been white. That includes the dogfighting scandal that put him in prison.

The photo came as a surprise to Toure. He told CNN that he doesn't like the artwork or the headline of his article.

He's not the only one. Critics say ESPN is using race simply to shock the audience and draw attention to itself. Some even say the basis for the story is flawed.

If this scenario sounds familiar, it should. Earlier this year, Beyonce Knowles created a controversy of her own when she appeared in blackface in French magazine L'Officiel Paris.

In both of these cases, the magazines' intention was to be artistic, not to mislead readers. However, it is clear that race is such a touchy subject that many people aren't ready to accept the changing of skin tone for purely visual effect.

What do you think -- Should magazines be able to change a person's race in a photograph without facing backlash?

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August 31, 2011 at 6:27 pm
(1) Sukhmandir Kaur says:

Should they is another hypothetical situation. It seems we have a pretty much anything goes media .I think criteria is based on whether or not it will attract readers regardless of what the readers may think and controversy is desirable becasue it attracts even more readers and has little to do with ethics and more to do with profits.

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