AP, AFP, Reuters, NPR retract child migrant detention stories - iMediaEthics

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News outlets reported that the United Sates currently has 103,000 children in “migration-related detention.” But, that statistic was out-of-date.

Reuters retracted its story, noting:

“GENEVA (Reuters) – A Nov. 18 story headlined “U.S. has world’s highest rate of children in detention -U.N. study” is withdrawn. The United Nations issued a statement on Nov. 19 saying the number was not current but was for the year 2015. No replacement story will be issued.”

A Reuters spokesperson told iMediaEthics: “Reuters decided to withdraw its story after the United Nations issued a statement on November 19 saying the number of children in detention was not current but was for the year 2015.”

The AFP unpublished its story and tweeted:

“AFP is withdrawing this story. The author of the report has clarified that his figures do not represent the number of children currently in migration-related US detention, but the total number of children in migration-related US detention in 2015. We will delete the story.”

An AFP spokesperson pointed to its follow-up story. In a follow-up news story, the AFP noted:

“AFP and a range of other media outlets were forced to retract their stories after it became clear that the expert had mistakenly presented four-year-old cumulative figures as if they were the current total number of migrant children in US detention.”

The AFP noted current estimates as well:

“According to official data from the US Customs and Border Patrols, 76,020 unaccompanied children and 473,682 “family units” — which refers to either children or adults arriving with a member of their family — were apprehended at the border between October 2018 and September 2019.”

NPR published a Nov. 20 correction reading:

“Because of an error by the study’s author, NPR removed its original story about a study of U.S. incarceration rates of children. NPR has published a new story about the study here.”

An NPR spokesperson pointed iMediaEthics to the follow-up story and correction.

The Associated Press published this retraction:

“The Associated Press has withdrawn its story about a claim about the number of children being held in migration-related detention in the United States. The story quoted an independent expert working with the U.N. human rights office saying that over 100,000 children are currently being held. But that figure refers to the total number of U.S. child detentions for the year 2015, according to the U.N. refugee agency. A substitute version will be sent.”

iMediaEthcs has written to the AP.

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AP, AFP, Reuters, NPR retract child migrant detention stories

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