Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Class is still a taboo topic in the U.S. The Guardian’s ambitious new rural reporting projects are tackling it
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
June 20, 2013, 2:24 p.m.

“If you’re expecting talk-radio and television shout fests to talk about how awesome your statistical validity is, you’re an idiot.”

Matt Waite has an excellent post on Source today that tells the story of early data journalism in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. He delves into issues of race and identity, and explains how easily journalists with good sense can mix things up — and miss big stories — because of how quickly numbers can obfuscate reality.

Race and ethnicity are tricky topics with loads of nuance and definitional difficulties. But they aren’t the only places these issues come up. Anytime you’re comparing data across agencies and across geographies, be on high alert for mismatches. Crime is a huge issue—jurisdictions have different definitions of what constitutes a big theft versus a little one, for instance. Driving laws are another—what constitutes reckless driving changes state to state. Budgets are another nightmare—what dollar figure requires a bid or not changes from city to city.

Getting the metadata, getting someone one the phone and basic descriptive statistics will help you avoid traps and hopefully let you avoid getting your butt kicked like I did.

Show tags Show comments / Leave a comment
 
Join the 35,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Class is still a taboo topic in the U.S. The Guardian’s ambitious new rural reporting projects are tackling it
“We want to support people who actually live in these places reporting on their own states, about inequality, and then we want to bring them to traditional elite audiences.”
“An international audience and a local audience”: How Fusion and The Guardian are changing their coverage of underreported areas
“If editors are the gatekeepers of coverage, how are they going to assign important stories if they are sending their staff writers to parachute in? It struck me as wrong.”
Do you trust the news, or do you trust your news? In the U.S., there’s a huge gap between the two
Plus: A bill to outlaw fake news in the Philippines, and the question of whether real news outlets should cover fake news.