When headlines undermine news content: Detroit, abortion rates, poverty, and Third-World references

The bold story headline: “Doctor: Detroit abortion stats ‘like some Third World country'”

The quote: “We’re seeing a picture that looks more like some Third-World country than someplace in the United States,” said Dr. Susan Schooley, chairwoman of the Department of Family Medicine at Henry Ford Hospital.

The meme: “Third-World” as code for “African”.

The article: policy advocacy, or selling news?

The Detroit News published a provocative article this week about abortion rates in Detroit. The facts may be true (I would still want to verify them), but is the article being truthful in its presentation? Yes, technically, the abortion rate in Detroit as calculated is similar to that in some developing countries. But at 37.9%, one could also say that it is similar to the 2008 rates in Latin America (32%) or Asia (28%), or that it’s better than (gasp!) Europe in the 1990s (48%). However, presenting the information that way wouldn’t Continue reading