Columbia Journalism Review

Sorry, Wrong Number

Numerical errors usually occur for one of these five reasons: A journalist mishears a correct number given to them by a source and fails to double-check it. A source unwittingly provides a mistaken piece of information and the journalist fails to verify it. A source deliberately fudges the numbers and the journalist fails to verify them. A journalist or editor miscalculates a figure. A journalist re-reports a mistake made by…

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Journalism by the Numbers (a pedagogical play in one scene) #math

(Lights up on a college journalism classroom. The professor enters, surveys the room.) Professor: Math! Students: (Shocked reaction.) Professor: Math!! Students: (Scattered cries of “No!”) Professor: MATH!!! Students: NO!!!   (Blackout.)   (40 minutes later.)   Professor: So, at the very least when you encounter numbers in your reporting, contact sources who can help you interpret those numbers critically. Seek out a variety of credible views on the provenance and…

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Last night I dreamed I was a stagehand during a metatheatrical number called “Butts in Seats.”

I saw Seton Hill’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone last night, which I loved. After I left the theater, I realized I left my hat under the seat, so I went back into the house for it. As I passed in front of the stage, Karen Glass and a line of black-clad theater technicians walked out from behind a curtain. I remember thinking to myself, “This must be the number…