Monday, January 01, 2007

Those homicide statistics

The JS ran today ran its annual, meaningless homicide statistics story. Homicides were down 16% in 2006. There were 122 homicides in 2005, and to 105 in 2006. Yeah. OK. So...what does that mean? That Milwaukee is safer? That there are fewer guns on the streets? That more people are taking hunter safety courses? That more people missed their targets? That more people survived being shot? Or that the JS needed holiday copy so used an arbitrary time period to measure homicide numbers?

Why not report that homicides were up or down for the decade, or for the week? How about for the day? Just think...instant front page story...

Homicides down 100%

No one was murdered in Milwaukee yesterday, a 100% decline from a year ago, when one person died by gunfire.

The Journal Sentinel realizes that the statistic is indicative of nothing, but this story fills space between writings by suburban-based columnists. The 100% figure also gives the Journal Sentinel yet another opportunity to repeat that the Journal Sentinel reported in November that about 600 people a year are struck by gunfire in Milwaukee and survive, costing taxpayers, hospitals and people with insurance tens of millions of dollars a year, and slowing down police response time.

How dare those people get hit by bullets.

The Journal Sentinel cannot help referring to itself as "the Journal Sentinel" in the Journal Sentinel. The Journal Sentinel realizes that this is annoying as hell, but believes that the use of the term "the Journal Sentinel" in the Journal Sentinel is a brilliant stroke of product placement and will encourage more people to subscribe to the Journal Sentinel because of the annoying repetition of the phrase "the Journal Sentinel" rather than in spite of the annoying repetition of "the Journal Sentinel."

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Today homicide is up 100% if no one else was shot since the early AM of 1/1/07.

How about pimps/dealers/illegal firearms/convicted felons per capita, and elected officials who promote lynching and firebomb attacks on critics, neighborhood by neighborhood? How about daily data from microphone and computer systems to count and triangulate nightly gunshots? Hey, what a coincidence--there's 4 shots right now.

The JS likes meaningless measures that are either doubleplusgood or doubleplusungood. Reality is both harsh and ambiguous; it's harder to package and file away. It doesn't go well with the overall PR focus of weenie newspapers and weenie mayors.

David Curry said...

You look at Milwaukee and I look at Denver and others look at South Baltimore and ask the same question.

When is the media as a whole, going to stop playing politics about Iraq, and tell the American people on a daily basis ( I believe it's referred to as "body counts" or "casulaties" when reffering to war.) about the 60,000 murders in the US during the last 47 months.