More WSJ Errors: This Time, Its Math

Last week, we discussed a highly politicized, misleading front page article about new bank rules (WSJ Jumps the Shark).

If you recall, that story included a large chart showing much various banks declined, in dollar and percentage terms.

Turns out the data was wildly wrong.

The Journal ran a milquetoast correction, under the heading “Corrections & Amplifications.” It was posted at the very bottom of that page, a location  not likely to be seen by many people.

It was not exactly a model of clarity:

Shares of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. fell $6.92, or 4.1%, to $160.87 in trading Thursday, while shares of Bank of America Corp. declined $1.02, or 6.2%, to $15.47; shares of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. fell $2.86, or 6.6%, to $40.54; shares of Morgan Stanley fell $1.29, or 4.2% to $29.34; shares of Citigroup Inc. fell $0.19, or 5.5%, to $3.27; and shares of Wells Fargo & Co. rose $0.18, or 0.6%, to $28. A chart published with a Page-One article Friday about new bank regulations incorrectly said the shares fell 7% for Goldman, 1% for Bank of America, 3% for J.P. Morgan, 1% for Morgan Stanley, 0.2% for Citigroup and rose 0.2% for Wells Fargo.

They also pulled the incorrect chart.

What they should have done was correct the data in the table, but for some reason, they chose not to. Since they failed to make the appropriate correction, perhaps we can be of assistance:


WSJ New Bank Rules Sink Stocks article:

Bank Price Change Reported % Change Actual % Change Inaccuracy
Goldman Sachs $6.92 7% 4.1% 41%
Bank of America $1.02 1% 6.2% 620%
J.P. Morgan Chase $2.86 3% 6.6% 120%
Morgan Stanley $1.29 1% 4.2% 420%
Citigroup $0.19 0.2% 5.5% 2650%
Wells Fargo $0.18 0.2% 0.6% 300%

Thus, they misreported the change by a factor of 692%. Remove the outlier (Citi’s 2,650%) and its off a mere 300%.

Now, when a newspaper skews its front page for political purposes, that is a form of bad journalism and intellectual sloppiness that leads to all manner of errors.

In my opinion, what caused this is this a form of political gaming of journalism that puts facts and objectivity second, and politics, first.

I am not suggesting that anyone purposely altered the numbers — but when the goal is no longer objective reporting of info, these things happen.

And when you can’t trust the front page of a paper to do basic math, you can’t trust ANYTHING in it.

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