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Australian TV apologizes for editing photo of woman MP

By Agence France-Presse Published Jan 31, 2024 2:58 pm

An Australian television news channel apologized "unreservedly" for altering a photo of a state lawmaker, who complained it gave her "enlarged boobs" and a more revealing dress.

Georgie Purcell, upper house member of the Victorian state parliament, posted side-by-side the original photo and the version edited by 9News Melbourne, part of Nine Network Australia.

In the edited image, which was broadcast on Monday evening, her white sleeveless dress has been transformed into a halter top and skirt, exposing her midriff. 

A translucent light grey square transposed over part of the photo seems to accentuate the MP's chest.

"I endured a lot yesterday. But having my body and outfit photoshopped by a media outlet was not on my bingo card," Purcell said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

"Note the enlarged boobs and outfit to be made more revealing. Can't imagine this happening to a male MP. What gives?"

9News Melbourne director Hugh Nailon said the channel's graphics department had sourced an online photo of the MP for use in a story on duck hunting. 

Purcell is the Animal Justice Party MP for Northern Victoria.

'Graphic error'

"As is common practice, the image was resized to fit our specs," Nailon said.

"During that process, the automation by Photoshop created an image that was not consistent with the original," he added, referring to US-based Adobe's photo-editing software.

"This did not meet the high editorial standards we have and for that we apologize to Ms. Purcell unreservedly," Nailon said, describing it as a "graphic error."

Adobe disagreed with the explanation.

"Any changes to this image would have required human intervention and approval," an Adobe spokesperson said in a statement to Australian media.

Purcell said she did not believe the same mistake would have happened with a photo of Victoria's state premier, Jacinta Allan.

"I imagine that if AI spat out a picture of Jacinta Allan in a crop top they would have noticed that but they don't with me," she told public broadcaster ABC.

The MP said the incident had an impact on her, and "could affect other women even more, and it should never happen again".

"These are things that would never happen to our male colleagues, ever."

Victoria's premier also criticized the incident.

"That's no way to present any woman let alone a woman who holds a position in public office, represents a community and is in the public discourse every single day," Allan told reporters.

"Let's think about the message that sends particularly to young women." (AFP)