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Misrepresenation or powerful symbol? The media ethics behind Time’s new cover




MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 12:  A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The asylum seekers had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents before being sent to a processing center for possible separation. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is executing the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy towards undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that domestic and gang violence in immigrants' country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status..  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
MCALLEN, TX - JUNE 12: A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. The asylum seekers had rafted across the Rio Grande from Mexico and were detained by U.S. Border Patrol agents before being sent to a processing center for possible separation. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is executing the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy towards undocumented immigrants. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also said that domestic and gang violence in immigrants' country of origin would no longer qualify them for political asylum status.. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
John Moore/Getty Images

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The new cover of Time Magazine, which shows Trump looking down on a crying toddler with the words “Welcome to America” emblazoned against a red backdrop, has elicited both praise and backlash from readers and media watchers.

https://twitter.com/TIME/status/1010058581922770944

The story inside the magazine, as well as the cover itself, could be taken to imply that the Honduran girl was one of the children separated  from her parents by U.S. federal agents while crossing the border. Soon after the cover was revealed, the girl’s father told the Daily Mail that the girl was not actually separated from her family.

Some are calling this a fact-checking oversight by Time, and a misrepresentation of the facts. Others say the cover is not meant to be taken literally, and is an effective and powerful representation of the larger national debate over how migrants should be treated when they cross the border illegally.

What do you think about the media ethics behind Time’s choice?

Guests:

Joe Concha, media reporter and columnist for The Hill; he tweets @JoeConchaTV

Jane Kirtley, professor of media ethics and law at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota