Class Warfare Blog

September 9, 2016

Scaring Ourselves to … Bad Policies

The NYT posted another “investigative journalism” report, this one is on crime, specifically murder (Murder Rates Rose in a Quarter of the Nation’s 100 Largest Cities, 9-9-16).

If one looks at their graphics, though, another headline could have been “Murder Rates Either Fell or Stayed the Same in Three Quarters of the Nation’s 100 Largest Cities.”

“’The homicide increase in the nation’s large cities was real and nearly unprecedented,’ wrote the study’s author …” yes, but this highlights another disturbing trend in modern journalism, the examination of the gaps but not the actual amounts. So, education reporters talk about how the gaps between black and white students has stayed the same or risen but ignore the fact that both Black and white students scores has risen considerably. Black students have increased their performance on standardized tests substantially. In one generation, Black students knowledge of mathematics has increased almost two whole grade levels (e.g. fourth graders can do math that their parents did in sixth grade)! That news somehow does not make it above the fold, below the fold, or anywhere in the paper apparently.

And, in crime reporting, how about the fact that murder rates in those cities has declined substantially since a high around 1990? They even include a graph showing this general decline but they are reporting only on an up-tick at the very end of the graph that may be part of a trend … or may not be.

Journalistic narratives are leading us astray. Violence is on the decline (per capita). Murder is on the decline (per capita). Crime is on the decline (per capita). But that doesn’t sell newspapers. The lede is still “if it bleeds it leads.”



  1. I appreciate that you mention one of my own very real fears for our nation’s future: a “journalism” pushed only to inform about the gaps, and not the larger overall amounts. Pair this with the now popular five-minute focus on very complicated issues, and nothing close to truth or cause is ever exposed.


    Comment by ciedie aech — September 11, 2016 @ 12:55 pm | Reply

    • This is a manifestation of cherry-picking information and only showing that which furthers the narrative. It has been around since history was invented and will continue to be with us but is most destructive in the service to citizens of a democracy that is supposed to supply us with somewhat reliable information. Journalists routinely suck up to politicians just because they fear getting cut off. Cut off from what, the useless crap they are given now?

      On Sun, Sep 11, 2016 at 12:55 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — September 12, 2016 @ 11:50 am | Reply

      • I’ve noticed that even PBS and Public Radio “journalists” now cut responses off mid-sentence to push the person being interviewed into a more scandalous or political direction.


        Comment by ciedie aech — September 12, 2016 @ 12:58 pm | Reply

        • Yeah, I am now even disappointed in PBS news. I used to hold them high.

          On Mon, Sep 12, 2016 at 12:58 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:


          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by Steve Ruis — September 12, 2016 @ 2:06 pm | Reply

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