I found saw a recent image going around on Facebook:

Wallstreet makes two headlines?

The picture shows two copies of the wall street journal that look nearly identical. They feature the same image but have very different headlines. The claim is that both copies were distributed, but to different locations, based on "what you want to hear."

It certainly looks very convincing, but as we know in today's world photos can be easily faked. Additionally the photo may be showing the headline that did run and a headline that almost ran rather than two separate headlines that ran in different locations.

So did the Wall Street Journal run two versions of the story based on location? If it did, is this a common practice, as the claim suggests? How do they decide which subscribers get which version?

  • 15
    The first thing I noticed was the 'Loafer steps up.' I wasn't sure what the ruckus was about. :D
    – J. Allan
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 20:35
  • @Jefr Yes, I was wondering how that decision was made too. It does seem a bit odd because the ads seem to target a different kind of person. Typically advertisers don't make two ads for the same market. But if the answer below is correct the markets would be the difference between those who get the paper in the morning and those who get it in the afternoon. That could be a significant difference in type of person. So actually there could be unintended swaying of audience opinions from this story changing practice. Consumer behavior is a very interesting topic.
    – user11643
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 21:41
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    You’ll notice that the story has been edited, not just the headline. Look hiw many lines are in each paragraph.
    – JDługosz
    Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 11:35

1 Answer 1


The headlines come from different times in the day, not different markets, and reflect changing situations during the day.

Changes like this are normal practice for newspapers.

As usual, Snopes has already answered this.

These opposing headline editions were not distributed to different political or geographic markets, nor were they intended to influence voters.

Colleen Schwartz, the Vice President of Communications at The Wall Street Journal, confirmed that these editions were printed at different times, not in different markets. The edition on the left was published after Trump met with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto early in the day (and referenced the seemingly cooperative tone of their discussion), and the edition on the right was published after Trump delivered a speech on immigration later in the day (and referenced Trump's reasserting his stance that he would force Mexico to pay for the building of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border):

Print newspapers sometimes undergo revisions throughout their daily runs and typically employ marks to distinguish the various editions — in this case the differing WSJ editions are distinguishable by the number of stars displayed in the masthead.

If there really were regional differences, somebody would have an example that was NOT from a day when a presidential candidate gave two contradictory speeches in a single day.

In answer to a comment, it is clear from the picture that the article has changed, not just the headline.

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    Yep. Takes hours to print the paper, especially for ones like the WSJ that are printed all over the country/world. No conspiracy here, just a case of the movie-favorite "stop the presses!"
    – ceejayoz
    Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 15:59
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    TBH I'm more surprised that they don't change based on geography/political zones.
    – Kevin
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 0:12
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    The New York Times had almost the opposite problem with their online main story for the same events: they didn't change it throughly enough soon enough, and readers weren't happy. Wasn't a good day for big newspapers, I guess.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 3:47
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    @Kevin It would make more sense to have a different paper, instead of two versions of the same paper. If you look closely at who owns what papers, you sometimes find that the same owner has a "left" and "right" paper to meet the demand in both markets.
    – user11643
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 17:05
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    Also at least in Canada national papers have regional versions with local news. Nothing nefarious left/right-wise, just people in Vancouver don't need to know about the bbq festival in Toronto this weekend. Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 17:08

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