Figures, statistics and the journalist: an affair between love and fear

Some perspectives of statistical consulting in journalism

Summary

With phrases like ‘50.1 percent of women like…’ and ‘49.9 percent of men hate…’ there seems to be nothing the media love more than figures and surveys which convey (apparently) simple messages. At the same time journalists seem to hate nothing more than too many figures or even calculations. Moreover mathematics and statistics are very unpopular even on the science pages of quality newspapers (e.g., Wormer 2006). This short note will give some reasons for the sometimes strange relationship between journalists and statistical data. It will also discuss some proposals on how this relationship between journalists and statisticians may be improved in the future, e.g., by a cooperation in the field of computer assisted reporting (CAR).

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Correspondence to Holger Wormer.

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Wormer, H. Figures, statistics and the journalist: an affair between love and fear . AStA 91, 391–397 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10182-007-0041-2

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Keywords

  • Mass media
  • Computer assisted reporting
  • CAR
  • Investigative reporting
  • Data presentation
  • Statistical consulting
  • Science journalism