Statistics and the media: A statistician’s view

McConway, Kevin (2016). Statistics and the media: A statistician’s view. Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism, 17(1) pp. 49–65.



How should statisticians interact with journalists? The author, an academic statistician, has worked with journalists in several ways over the years. The article explores the many-sided relationship between scientists, journalists and the public, from the point of view of the statisticians involved. One pessimistic view of the role of numbers in news is that they are there largely for rhetorical reasons, to increase the credibility and authority of a story. The author would not subscribe to that view, but it does point to a potential need to educate readers as well as journalists in dealing with numbers, and the article briefly discusses a checklist intended to help the consumers of media stories about risks to choose what to ignore. The article concludes by presenting some reasons for being optimistic about the position of statistics in journalism.

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