Cut-and-Paste Diversity

The University of Wisconsin-Madison mailed its 2001-2002 undergraduate application to fifty-thousand potential students. The cover (top) boasted a crowd scene from a 1993 Badger football game. Most of the students in the scene were white, but on the left-hand side was a smiling black student.

Anna Gould, a staffer at the Daily Cardinal, UW-Madison's student newspaper, noticed that everyone in the picture was in shadow except for the lone black student, who had the sun shining directly on him. Intrigued, Gould tracked down the original photo (middle) and discovered that the black student, Diallo Shabazz, wasn't in it. She later found out that he hadn't even attended the game. Evidently his face had been digitally inserted into the cover photo.

When the revelation broke in September 2000, embarrassed university officials admitted they had, without Shabazz's permission, lifted his face from a 1994 photo (bottom) of him attending a campus orientation rally, and inserted it into the photo of the 1993 Badger game. They explained they had wanted to highlight the campus's racial diversity, but while putting together the brochure had been unable to find a suitable photo. So they created one. The university subsequently attempted to recall all the brochures that had been sent out.

The incident inspired a satirical article titled "Black Guy Photoshopped In" in the humor magazine The Onion.
Links and References
Photo Categories: Composite Images, Head Transplants, Magazine Covers, 2000-2004

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