category: politics

Same study, two different presentations: an example of how the media can twist information

Regardless of one’s stance on immigration reform, or of one’s stance on the ‘Gang of 8’ bill in particular, today’s news contained Β a rather interesting example of how the very same information can be twisted to make completely different arguments.

The NY Times published an article today entitled: “Illegal Immigrant Population Shows Some Signs of Growth, Estimates Show.” The piece notes:

About 11.7 million immigrants are living in the United States illegally, a population that has not varied much over the last three years but showed signs recently of increasing again, according to new estimates published Monday by the Pew Research Center Hispanic Trends Project…Β The new estimates, which are based on the most recent census data and other official statistics, show that the population of immigrants here illegally did not decline significantly from 2009 to 2012, despite record numbers of about 400,000 deportations each year by the Obama administration and laws to crack down on illegal immigration in states like Alabama, Arizona and Georgia.Β Recent figures, including reports from the Border Patrol of illegal crossings at the southwest border, suggest that the numbers began to grow again last year.

Clearly, this new information aids Gang of 8 opponents.

Meanwhile, also reporting on the very same Pew study, The Wall Street Journal had its own article. Except this time, notice the headline: “Boom Time Over For Illegal Immigration, Study Finds.”

This article notes:

The steep drop in the illegal-immigrant population during the recession has bottomed out, according to a new study. But migration from Mexico, the primary source of blue-collar workers during the U.S. economic boom, hasn’t resumed.

(The Wall Street Journal is noted for being in favor of immigration reform, with some Gang of 8 opponents coining it the ‘Open Borders Journal.’)

While both articles are technically correct, notice the difference in headlines, the difference in the opening lines. One headline could be used by an immigration reform supporter, another by an opponent, even though the source for both articles is the same study.

In short, this is a remarkable example in how the very same information and data can often be used by different media outlets and writers in completely different ways.


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