On 1 September 2016, a photograph purportedly showing two editions of The Wall Street Journal with markedly different front page headlines regarding Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s stance on immigration was circulated on social media:
This image was passed around on the Internet accompanied by the claim that the Wall Street Journal had deliberately published one headline, “Trump Softens His Tone,” in a pro-Trump market area in an attempt to sway readers away from the the GOP nominee, and the other headline, “Trump Talks Tough on Wall,” in a non-Trump market area to bolster support for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
However, these opposing headline editions were not distributed to different political or geographic markets, nor were they intended to influence voters.
This picture shows two editions of the Wall Street Journal published at different times of the day. The paper on the left came off the press early in the day, while the paper on the right was produced later in the day. 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:
Colleen Schwartz, the Vice President of Communications at The Wall Street Journal, confirmed to us 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):
Yes, the images represent two different editions, published at different times, and the headlines represent the news at the time of publication — before and after his speech.