Tag Archives: Math

When journalists don’t know math: Exhibit A

A while ago, I wrote about the importance of knowing simple arithmetic, how I taught math in a second-year fundamentals of reporting course at Carleton University’s journalism school.

In that blog post, I wrote that simple mathematical errors can damage credibility and lead a reader to lose focus on the whole report. 

A perfect example was today’s report from CBC Ottawa on its analysis of police salaries in the city. The oval highlights are mine.

 

math2

Please tell me you can spot the error.

 (Note: Since I grabbed this shot of the error, CBC has corrected the error.)

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Journalism, by the numbers

Today, I am giving the students in my second-year journalism class a math test.

When I told the students in this lab – which is mostly a “journalism boot camp”, focusing on interview skills, background research, focusing a lead, writing a strong feature story with an emphasis on CP style – they were shocked.

“But we went into journalism because we aren’t any good at math,” one student said.

Indeed, many of us did, I answered. But journalism is not a refuge from math, numbers are everywhere. And if you’re wrong on your math in a story, it’s as detrimental to your credibility as misquoting someone, or being wrong on the basic facts of a story.

Continue reading Journalism, by the numbers