Roman, Arabic, even, odd, manipulated...


I become very frustrated when numbers are misused, because as a former math major, I sort of love them like I love language. (Except differential equations, I could never stomach those nasty little things.)

I become more frustrated when people whose job it is to understand the numbers attempt to avoid them like I avoid phone calls from Blockbuster when my two-week-old movie is still in my DVD player. Hey, guess what... it's a journalist's job to deal with numbers.

That said, many journalists do not like numbers and would prefer not to spend their time crunching numbers. The number of numerical errors that slip into newspapers has been stated and restated ad nauseum.

Instead of pounding numbers into the heads of people who do not like them and who tend to be more word-inclined, it seems a solution might be to have a dedicated numbers editor. I know the last thing newspapers want is to hire more staff, but this would increase efficiency -- the numbers person, who knows what they are doing, could crunch all figures and stats, and edit any part of a story with any number whatsoever. Knowing what they were doing and unhindered by a dislike for the work, they would work efficiently and leave the reporters free to report and write and continue the rest of their one-man band. But maybe we could take at least this one man out of the band and give him his own instrument.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with hiring some type of numbers person in the newsroom, or at least having a refresher course on math would be very helpful. I like math, but after not practicing it for a while (the last math class I took was 3 years ago), I'm quite rusty.