By Tim Gee

Several years ago I canceled my hometown paper, the Oregonian, and subscribed to the Wall Street Journal. I was sick of the politically correct spin that was applied to both the selection of stories to print, and the way published stories were biased. Sadly, I’ve noticed an increasing trend of the same behavior in the WSJ over the past year or so. The main headline on this morning’s edition is just the latest example. I thought I was reading the New York Times when I looked at the front page. The headline: Gun Violence Raises, But Fewer Die . . .

Based on that, you’d think the piece is about increased gun violence. With Obama’s reelection, the gun control issue has come to the forefront, and apparently the WSJ’s editors decided to squeeze this story — about improvements in trauma medicine in general and gun shot wounds in particular — to fit the gun control narrative.

Very few of the claims in the story are substantiated. Yes, there have been some academic studies done by physicians on the improving survivability and outcomes of shooting victims, but these findings are only relevant for those patients who were included in the studies. It’s not possible to statistically extend those findings and apply them to broader groups.

Nor is there any data presented to support the allegation that gunshot wound victims have increased by, “almost half” between 2001 and 2011 – and it’s unknown whether that increase is figured on a per 100,000 population basis or whether it also reflects the increase in overall population.

After reading plenty of anecdotal and heart rending vignettes, the reporters admit that “criminologists say they are cautious about using such medical statistics to draw conclusions because of year-to-year inconsistencies in the number of medical institutions reporting data. The FBI collects annual homicide and aggravated assault statistics but doesn’t have reliable numbers for gun and knife attacks.”

It would seem to me that if those FBI data on homicides and aggravated assaults also showed an increase, they would have been used to support the reporter’s anti-gun perspective. So I checked the FBI data and here’s the percentage of change in aggravated assaults over the past few years:

2011            down 4% from the previous year
2010            down 6% from the previous year
2009            down 4.2% from the previous year, and 11.5% from 2000

It seems that what started as a great story about improvements in trauma medicine was stretched to support an unsubstantiated anti-gun message. A disgraceful spin-job worthy of the New York Times, but not the WSJ.

27 Responses to WSJ: Gun Violence Raises…But Where’s the Data?

  1. I read the article too. Did you notice they also included “knife stabbings” as part of their report but made it seem that all the incidents were gun related?

    The WSJ has gone downhill since being taken over by News Corp. It has become a liberal and slanted paper. I will not be renewing my subscription.

    • It’s not a liberal/conservative thing, it’s that tabloids attract more readers and advertisers and so the big papers are becoming more like tabloids. The political bias of editors, writers, and management are real, but these people are hired for the effect of their biases on the ability to sell advertising space. Why else do you think News Corp runs some of the most liberal and the most conservative news outlets (but all garbage) in the US, Europe, and Australia?

    • The “news” part of the WSJ has always been reliably soft-liberal. It’s only the Editorial Page that is conservative.

  2. Outside of its editorial pages (the epic Holman Jenkins alone is worth a subscription), the WSJ comports to the dominant liberal-media world view. The reporting is not as loopy as the NY Times, but that’s no endorsement.
    On the plus side, the WSJ’s comment section is pretty tolerant when you call out, and even mildly insult, their reports’ liberal assumptions. Deep down, I think management knows there’s a bias problem, but WSJ reporters DO have union representation. Maybe in a few years, with the evolution of social media and blogging, the younger Murdoch break them/clean house with replacement reporters/bloggers.

    There has been recent good media news along this vein: the NYT and Newsweak recently announced layoffs…

    • News Corp attracts readers and sells advertising space by playing on their audiences existing beliefs. When the people get worked up about liberal biases or conservative biases, News Corp and similar media companies can claim an engaged audience and sell more advertising. They are playing both sides and don’t care how much discord and disfunction they sow.

      Rather than playing that game and blaming “the other guys” as dictated by News Corp and their contemporaries, realize who is the real problem. It’s the media empires who are milking the journalistic credentials of their predecessors to sell opinions.

  3. When I was in my teens, my boss pointed out that any story you have personal knowledge of is grossly wrong. Leftist bias and sheer incompetence combine to make a joke of anything you find in any paper, from local weekly to national chain. They are not worth your time or money. Starve them.
    While Craigslist and its anti gun policy makes me angry, they deserve thanks for cutting the throats of most newspapers by destroying their classified ad revenue.
    Internet news is the future. There is no need to support an institution that is hostile to your values.

    • I agree on the credibility of stories. Everytime I already know the story, and the few times I’ve been involved or been there, the newspaper write-up is horribly and fundamentally wrong.

    • Is Craigslist really anti gun or did they not want the liability? It seems pretty hypocritical to me that they would take a stand on guns but encourage sexual deviance with their casual encounters pages.

  4. If you venture beyond the editorial page of the WSJ you’ll find it’s not much different than other papers when it comes to political bias. Of course the editorial board is on the right and that’s why I read it.

  5. Somebody still reads newspapers? I’m an old fud with limited computer fu skills and I haven’t bought a newspaper in years. I don’t support the people that are trying to degrade my country.

  6. Unfortunately, this is going to become commonplace. Some or most people may not read the newspaper but it’s all around you. Go to the gas station, the newspaper is there. Go to your favorite fast food establishment and the older people are there reading the paper. Online? It’s there too. I didn’t even watch TV when Costas had his “speech” but I sure was over run with it on the internet.
    This is their launching board, this is the scare tactics and it’s getting through.

  7. The US population has grown tremendously over the decades.
    Fifty years ago the population was at 186,537,737 back in 1962.
    http://www.npg.org/facts/us_historical_pops.htm

    Now, with the illegal aliens included the US population is about 317 million. That’s a big jump. The numbers of illiterates and those without an education or job skills has also increased. IMO, comparing gun violence to previous years using numbers without an adjustment for the increasing population is a very incomplete picture. It really is incredible that homicides are lower despite the overall increase in population and those from sub-groups that have far higher rates of violence (and far higher birth rates) in their geographic areas.

  8. Expect this data to be manipulated to grease the orders and policy upcoming. There is too much thunder going on to not expect some rain. Oh and the John Hopkins public health department is also known as the John Hopkins, Bloomberg School of Public Health who receives support from the Joyce Foundation. Bloomberg of MAIG and the Joyce foundation have strong views on guns and want to educate us all.

  9. I’ve wondered about something ever since I bought my first pistol.

    What is this “gun violence ” or “gun crime” the media speaks of?

    When a bad guy steals a car, they don’t call that “crowbar violence”
    If a beer bottle is used in an assault, they don’t call that “Budweiser Crime”, and if the police compiled statistics on bank fraud they don’t call it “money crime”. I wonder what flak the WSJ would get if they ran a headline stating “IMMIGRATION CRIME AT RECORD HIGHS!”.

  10. This just makes me continue to wonder why someone doesn’t start another news organization that is slanted neutral or to the right? Fox is all better than nothing but they still have idiots like O’Reilly.

    • News Corp, who runs Fox News, runs many conservative AND liberal news outlets around the world. It’s not a liberal or conservative bias controlling the papers, it’s an intentional effort to hire polarizing writers, editors, and managers who play on peoples existing beliefs in order to build and maintain an engaged audience and increase the value of their advertising space. Why ask for another slanted news source when we should be asking for the facts without opinion according to traditional journalistic standards?

  11. I agree Dan even good papers have liberal editorials on them spinning anti gun views.

    Your from Oregon too what range to you goto Dan We may know each other and not know it LOL.

  12. Well that’s a shame. I used to subscribe to the WSJ and it was a great paper, but I cancelled it due to my schedule being too busy for me to read multiple newspapers anymore. I was considering getting it again now that my schedule has died down…maybe I should rethink that.

  13. Two very important notes here – The first is that IF the overall number of shootings are up since 2000, data I quickly found via google indicates they’re presently down since 2008, from 110,215[Ref.1] to 104,852[ref.2] (that’s fatal and non-fatal). As the author noted, this doesn’t take population into account, and since it’s been rising during the same time period, the overall rate has dropped more quickly than the 6000 shooting drop would indicate.

    Secondly, this doesn’t matter, because the data I found indicates the WSJ is lying or seriously manipulating data. In the year 2000 there were 52,447 deliberate and 23,237 non-fatal shootings, for a total of 75,684[Ref. 3]. I can’t find gun death totals for that year, but since the overall number is has been fairly static over the past 13 years (the rise in suicides[Ref. 4] has cancelled out the fall in homicides and accidental gun deaths), so I’ll use a rough average of the various numbers I found on Google – 31,000 [Ref. 5]. The total is 106,684 – hardly the 50% increase the OP reported from the WSJ.

    While I’m sure they were able to bake their numbers to somehow reflect the postulation they made, this is little more than grasping at straws on their part.

    Note- Data on gunshot wounds by year are difficult to find, and I didn’t bother to correlate population against my raw numbers, so again, the overall rate has likely dropped quite a bit. Further, the references below reflect what I was able to find and type in 15 minutes. If you find any errors by all means correct me.

    1 – https://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2012/01/06-3
    2 – http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/jul/23/facebook-posts/do-people-get-shot-every-year-facebook-post-says/
    3 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States#cite_note-WISQARS-4
    4 – http://www.afsp.org/index.cfm?page_id=04ea1254-bd31-1fa3-c549d77e6ca6aa37
    5 – http://goo.gl/LA1ue

    • bravo!!!

      “The total is 106,684 – hardly the 50% increase the OP reported from the WSJ.”

      exactly right.

      dont get too bent out of shape over WSJ gentlemen…WSJs new found “liberal” (it makes me want to vomit when they lay claim to that title) attraction is just part of a bigger Hegelian Dialectic.

    • Thank you! Also, I worded a sentence above rather poorly:

      “In the year 2000 there were 52,447 deliberate and 23,237 non-fatal shootings, for a total of 75,684.”

      That should read “23,237 unintentional non-fatal shootings”, meaning the total of 75,684 are all non-fatal shootings.

  14. Even legendary former Op-Ed page Editor Bob Bartley said the “news” pages of the WSJ were often indistinguishable from the NY Times. He said, just because the Op-Ed page is pro-free markets and generally pro-liberty, don’t assume the rest of the paper is. I actually think they’ve been trying to correct that situation and the news pages are moving slowly towards the Op-Ed pages ideologically, but it’s a slow process.

  15. I cancelled my WSJ subscription about a year after News Corp bought it. They completely trashed the WSJ, which is sad because it used to represent one of the last bastions of actual journalism.

    Now it’s just another slimy arm of the Corporate Establishment Media agenda.

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