Section Instructor: Michael Todd
This Numeracy Primer Course Pack is for students enrolled in Into to Reporting (Fall 2019) at Washington and Lee University.
That journalists are notoriously bad at math is an old cliche … but like many cliches and tired jokes, it does have the faintest glimmer of truth.
Reporters on the business beat or covering city government expect to deal with numbers in most stories, but they’re not the only ones. Numbers crop up in media stories in the most unexpected places. Science and health reporting. Education. Food stories. Weather: I challenge you to find a story about climate change, drought, even forest fires that is not chock full of numbers.
And as journalism confronts the age of Big Data, more numbers are appearing in more and more places. Only now, they’re dressed up as data and hobnob with fancy friends like “correlation” and “analytics.” What’s a hapless journalist to do?
The Numeracy Primer is here to help you confront these numbers head-on and write about them accurately, ethically and elegantly.
What Will I Learn:
The Numeracy Primer offers brief reviews of some of the skills needed to calculate some numbers, but this is primarily a course on writing about numbers, not calculating them.
Washington and Lee University – Founded in 1749, Washington and Lee University is named for two men who played pivotal roles in the University’s history: George Washington, whose generous endowment of $20,000 in 1796 helped the fledgling school (then known as Liberty Hall Academy) survive, and Robert E. Lee, who provided innovative educational leadership during his transformational tenure as president of Washington College from 1865 to 1870.