Numeracy Primer: How to Write About Numbers


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Numeracy Primer: How to Write About Numbers

Your guide to writing about numbers accurately, ethically and elegantly, with a quick review of how to calculate the basics.


SKU: NUSDT24-16 Category: Tags: ,


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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.

Course learning outcomes

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  1. What percent, percentage point and percent change mean
  2. The importance of both precision and rounding
  3. How to calculate rate

Who should take this course?

Any journalist that wants to be able to write about numbers in a way both they and the readers understand.



Pam Hogle