A healthy skepticism about data

“Political journalism used to be more like anthropology — relying on field work, on long, in-depth interviews. I fear that kind of reporting is now regarded as ‘anecdotal.'”

bill-kellerThis is more wishful thinking than prediction: Journalists, chastened by their failure to see the Trump victory coming, will gain a healthy skepticism about data. Political journalism used to be more like anthropology — relying on field work, on long, in-depth interviews. I fear that kind of reporting is now regarded as “anecdotal.” Okay, you filled a notebook with soul-baring interviews, but where are the metrics? The metrics of 2016 — unreliable polls, economic indicators that told us things were getting better (never mind the back end of the bell curve), low crime rates that don’t measure fear — didn’t tell the story. I’m all for data, but we shouldn’t be slaves to it.

Bill Keller is editor-in-chief of The Marshall Project and previously executive editor of The New York Times.

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