Reuters Misleading Headline Winner of the Day

Reuters gets the award for the most misleading headline of the day with its Aug 28 story making it seem as if unemployment has wildly increased in New York State -- even calling it a "crisis" -- when there was really only a small increase. The headline would cause the casual reader to assume that the world is falling apart concerning employment rates and on top of that the badly worded headline also feeds into the Bush-ruined-the-economy meme. And we know how Reuters is always looking to smear President Bush whenever it can. Further, Reuters cites the work of the Fiscal Policy Institute without identifying it as a left leaning think tank.

Reuters headlines its New York employment piece Unemployment leaps over 20 percent in 25 New York counties. It is a shocking headline, to be sure, screaming that unemployment "leaps 20 percent." Such a wild headline would certainly cause a casual reader to assume that overall unemployment has risen by 20 to 25 percent. Contrary to the scaremongering of the headline, New York's unemployment did not "leap 20 percent" in over all numbers at all. In fact, the over all unemployment of the state has only gone up by .2 percent, from 5.2 in June to 5.4 in July. That is hardly a number to spark a "Crisis."

The report is misleading on several counts.

The ranks of unemployed workers soared more than 20 percent in 25 New York counties in the first half of 2008, even in wealthy suburbs around New York City such as Westchester and Nassau, a report said Thursday.

Then the Reuters piece reports on a press release by a group called the Fiscal Policy Institute that warns, "As New York's policy makers address the large budget gaps, it is imperative that budget actions not worsen the economy and exacerbate the unemployment crisis."

The statistics under discussion focuses on New York City and tires to claim that the economy is in "crisis" mode, but even the reported numbers for the City's five boroughs doesn't show any major "crisis."

  • NEW YORK CITY - July 2008:5.4; June 2008:5.3; July 2007:5.8
  • BRONX - July 2008:7.2; June 2008:7.0; July 2007:7.8
  • KINGS - July 2008:5.9; June 2008:5.6; July 2007:6.4
  • NEW YORK - July 2008:4.6; June 2008:4.6; July 2007:5.0
  • QUEENS - July 2008:4.8; June 2008:4.7; July 2007:5.1
  • RICHMOND - July 2008:5.2; June 2008:4.8; July 2007:5.6

These numbers hardly scream crisis. Especially when full employment has traditionally been considered an unemployment rate of 5 percent.

Even more misleadingly, Reuters does not explain that the FPI is a left leaning, big government advocating think tank with board members that previously worked for government agencies under big spending liberal politicians, redistributionist advocacy groups, and trade unions. Hardly the sort of folks that one could trust to report on economic matters.

Now, it is true that New York's economy has taken a small hit of late. But the alarmism with which this Reuters story is written wildly overstates the truth. Then add the news that the economy has just been found to have gotten a boost with the GDP having a much better growth than assumed earlier and we get more evidence of Reuters chicken-Little style of reporting. Today it was reported that the U.S. gross domestic product grew by 3.3% instead of the less rosy estimate of 1.9% previously estimated.

So, congratulations to Reuters for the most misleading headline of the day.

(Image credit: NBC 25, WEYI TV)