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Was Photoshop really to blame for 9NEWS Melbourne’s image blunder?

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Nine News has continued to face criticism after a modified photograph of a Victorian MP was broadcast as part of a news story on Monday nights Melbourne bulletin with many questioning if software could actually be to blame for the issue.

The manipulated image come to attention after Ms. Purcell used social media to point out alterations to her appearance in the image.

Ms. Purcell expressed her dismay, noting, “Having my body and outfit photoshopped by a media outlet was not on my bingo card.” She highlighted that the changes included an enlargement of her breasts and a more revealing outfit, diverging from the original photo.

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The doctored image was broadcast on a Monday, showing a cropped section of Ms. Purcell’s dress and exposing part of her stomach.

NINE NEWS Apologises for Altered Image of MP Georgie Purcell
NINE NEWS Apologises for Altered Image of MP Georgie Purcell. (image – News Corp)

Hugh Nailon, the Director of Nine News Melbourne, responded to the criticism explaining that the graphic department sourced an online image of Ms. Purcell and then used a recently launched artificial intelligence feature in Adobe Photoshop to resize the image for broadcast.

“As is common practice, the image was resized to fit our specs. During that process, the automation by Photoshop created an image that was not consistent with the original. This did not meet the high editorial standards we have and for that we apologise to Ms Purcell unreservedly.”

That response attracted significant attention, leading to coverage by international media outlets including the BBC, New York Times, Washington Times, CBS, The Independent, Evening Standard, Metro UK, The Mirror, and South China Morning Post.

Adobe, the company behind Photoshop, also expressed skepticism regarding Nine’s claim, asserting that any alterations would have required human intervention and approval.

Georgie Purcell Slams NINE NEWS Over Altered Image
Georgie Purcell Slams NINE NEWS Over Altered Image (image – Bendigo Advertiser)

In an intriguing investigation conducted by Crikey’s Cam Wilson, an attempt was made to replicate the incident using the Photoshop generative AI fill function. The experiment involved images of various politicians, including Georgie Purcell, Anthony Albanese, Peter Dutton, Adam Bandt, Pauline Hanson, and Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan.

Wilson’s findings revealed a concerning bias in the AI’s output. For female politicians, the AI consistently generated more revealing clothing, a trend not observed with male politicians. Wilson specifically noted:

“When I used this cropped image of Purcell that appears to be the same one used by Nine, it generated her wearing some kind of bikini briefs (or tiny shorts).”

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Interestingly, when Wilson applied the AI fill on male politicians in suits, the software consistently depicted them in suits. In contrast, the AI’s output for female politicians varied significantly, ranging from short dresses with exposed legs to sports tights and briefs.

TV Blackbox understands the original image was manipulated by Channel 9 using Adobe Firefly Artificial Intelligence Tool. Newsrooms globally are increasingly using Artificial Intelligence products, including Chat GPT and AI Image Generation Software.

While the products are capable of creating significant amounts of content quickly and at low cost, the products remain experimental with the artificial intelligence prone to ‘hallucinations’ and creating additional unintended content.

Further details and examples of this investigation can be found on Crikey’s website.

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Know more about this or another Australian media story?

Contact the team anonymously at TV Blackbox

Kevin Perry
Kevin Perryhttps://tvblackbox.com.au/author-kevin-perry/
Senior Editor and Co-Owner of the TV Blackbox website, Kevin Perry is an experienced media commentator focused on TV Production, Consumer Tech, SVOD & Sports Broadcasting. Media enquiries please Call or Text 0428-275-111
Comments

1 COMMENT

  1. Photoshop definitely was used, but wasnt to blame – as anyone who has used PS can tell you, to get that level of change happening takes a lot of work!

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