Last May, in a Power of the Jump™ post, I noted the misleading nature of an L.A. Times front-page assertion that women “routinely” served more time than men convicted of identical crimes in Los Angeles.
I observed that, when you turned to the back pages, you learned that women sometimes served more time than men, and men sometimes served more time than women. And, at the time the article was published, men and women were serving the same percentage of their sentences. Yet the paper emphasized on the front page only those periods of time when women served more time than men, undoubtedly fooling many readers who never read the story past the jump.
Ironically, the group of people fooled by this deceptive tactic includes . . . L.A. Times reporters and editors.
Witness their recent article on the all-important story of the jailing of Paris Hilton, which had this paragraph:
[B]ecause overcrowding is less acute in the female facilities, women sentenced to 90 days or more of county jail time regularly have been serving a greater percentage of their sentences than men: 25% compared with 10% for men.
That 25% vs. 10% statistic is straight out of last May’s L.A. Times story. But the statistic was already outdated as of May 2006, as men and women were serving equal percentages of their jail sentences (a fact buried on the back pages). And guess what? The situation is now reversed, with men serving half their sentences, while women serve only 10%, as a correction explains:
Female inmates: An article in the May 11 California section about Paris Hilton’s potential jail sentence stated that female inmates have regularly been serving a greater percentage of their sentences than men. That was true for much of last year. But additional bed space has been made available for men, and Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials say all men now serve at least 50% of their jail sentences, and women serve at least 10%.
The Power of the Jump™: they fool themselves with it too!