FACT CHECK: No, The Wall Street Journal Didn’t Run Opposing Headlines For The Same Story To Influence Readers

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Facebook more than 9,500 times purportedly shows two copies of the Wall Street Journal from the same day with the same story but different headlines. The publication distributed the two editions to different markets to manipulate readers, it claims.

Verdict: False

The Wall Street Journal printed the two versions with different headlines to meet delivery schedules and to reflect developing news, not to manipulate readers. The one on the left was published before President Donald Trump gave a campaign speech, while the one on the right was published after. The newspapers likely went to distinct geographical areas, as different editions get printed on a distance-based delivery schedule.

Fact Check:

The Facebook post, which features two editions of the Wall Street Journal that appear to have the same story but opposing headlines, suggests that the publication distributed them to different markets to influence readers. Both newspapers have the same photograph of Trump, the then-Republican presidential candidate, shaking hands with then-Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on their front-pages.

“Trump softens his tone,” reads the headline of the newspaper on the left.

The other headline reads, “Trump Talks Tough on Wall.”

“Same paper. Same story. Same day. Different regions. Different message,” reads the post’s caption.”Still think you’re not being manipulated by media? Think again…” (RELATED: Was Tulsi Gabbard ‘Labeled’ A ‘Right-Wing Extremist’ By The New York Times?)

Colleen Schwartz, the vice president of communications at the Wall Street Journal, told the Daily Caller in an email that the images represent two different editions of the newspaper published at different times to meet distance-based delivery schedules. Both versions of the story appeared in print on Sept. 1, 2016.

“There are different editions of the Journal printed at different times during the evening in order to meet delivery demands,” Schwartz explained in an email. “This often means that the content is updated to reflect new reporting on news and events as they evolve. The different editions are distinguishable by the number of stars in the upper right corner (under the L in Journal).”

The edition on the left has two stars, while the edition on the right has four stars. That means the newspaper on the left was printed earlier than the one on the right.

Newspaper editions are printed and distributed to different areas based on how long it takes for the papers to get from the printing plants to their destinations, meaning editions going to areas farther away get printed earlier and those going to closer areas get printed later with more up-to-date news. The newspapers in the Facebook post show two different versions of the same story because the story was still developing after the earlier edition’s print deadline, according to Schwartz.

Trump traveled to Mexico City to meet with Nieto on Aug. 31, 2016, according to NPR. He gave a speech at a campaign rally stop in Phoenix later that same day. Both stories in the pictured editions covered these events to varying extents, as well as using the same Reuters picture. (RELATED: Meme Claims El Chapo Testified That He Gave Money To Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi And Adam Schiff)

“The edition on the left was published after Trump met with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto early in the day (and referenced the seemingly cooperative tone of their discussion),” Schwartz told the Caller in an email. “The edition on the right was published after Trump delivered a speech on immigration later in the day (and referenced Trump’s reasserting his stance that he would force Mexico to pay for the building of a wall along the US Mexico border).”

“The images represent two different editions, published at different times. The headlines represent the news at the time of the publication – before and after his speech,” added Schwartz.

Similar claims about this photograph of the Wall Street Journal editions have been circulating online since 2016, according to Schwartz.

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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