FUZZY JOURNALISM 2: Plot thickens at Journal Sentinel

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On March 29 I blogged about the odd standards employed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to estimate crowds. You can read the original post at the URL below; scroll down to the sixth paragraph. Basically, the paper refuses to report official crowd estimates, but then offers readers its own vague, poorly defined alternatives. Thus, a March 10 Capitol rally by progressives that even the Walker administration estimated at 35,000 was described by the newspaper as a protest by "thousands."

Strangely, the newspaper doesn't apply the same ultra-conservative eye to ultra-conservative groups. Today, the J-S reported on a tea party rally at the Capitol. Photos by bloggers suggested that well under a thousand attended. Yet the newspaper's rather prominent coverage this time reported that "several thousand" showed up.

If you believe what you read in the Journal Sentinel, the gigantic (by official estimate) March 10 rally of progressives would seem to have attracted only about as many people as attended this weekend's tea party rally -- even though most of the tea party rally goers managed to fit on one set of Capitol steps. Covering the latter event, a reporter wrote:

"America's eyes are focused right here today, are focused on our Wisconsin," [Lt. Gov.] Kleefisch told the several thousand tea party supporters who gathered Saturday. 

Several thousand? Really? Well, here's a a link to a helpful photo from ReformDem's blog site that suggests otherwise. I'm having trouble uploading images today, so just go to the ReformDem site at the URL immediately following and look at the photo from the April 14 entry:

http://reform-dem.blogspot.com/2012/04/extremely-low-turnout-for-2012-af...

Now go on to the Journal Sentinel's online site and look at the photo it prominently featured with its overblown estimate:

http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/speakers-at-madison-rally-cla...

Pretty picture, but not very helpful for independent crowd estimates by readers. Nope, you'll just have to trust the newspaper. But in the case of reporting crowds for rallies and protests, the Journal Sentinel has shown that, with respect to groups of differing political views, its approach is uneven and even unfair.

Hey, Journal Sentinel editors: Is this fair and balanced coverage? Well, if we use the Fox News definitiion of fair and balanced ... yeah, I suppose.