There was a bit of a brouhaha yesterday when Clerks director Kevin Smith was told by Southwest Airlines that he was too big to fly in a single seat. The details are available for anyone interested enough to type “kevin smith” and “southwest” into Google. However, I thought this was interesting. This morning, CNN’s newsroom blog posted an item on the issue, including a photo of Smith. Here is a screen capture of the page.

Stretched image?Is it me, or does that photo of the admittedly portly Smith look like it’s been significantly stretched on the horizontal axis?

Every course I’ve ever taken on journalism ethics has emphasized the idea that unduly manipulating photographs is verboten. Consider the case of the infamous TIME Magazine cover of O.J. Simpson’s mugshot, which was desaturated and otherwise altered, presumably to make Simpson appear more menacing.

CNN’s post this morning might not be quite as odious as TIME’s gaffe, but it’s certainly a cheap attempt to make Smith look larger than he actually is.

UPDATE: Looks like they’ve fixed it. Compare the current version with my screen capture.