AP Style Guide Addresses Expanding Role of Data in Journalism
June 28, 2017
The AP Style Guide is the renowned go-to handbook of best practices and style rules for any professional journalist. In its newly released 2017 edition, the Guide has released a new section focused on data journalism, a testament to data’s growing importance in this field.
This move reflects a continually growing trend of reporters being more statistically savvy. Statistics is the science of learning from data, which is a valuable skill in journalism. Reporters have increasingly sought to include statistics courses as part of their education. The Colombia School of Journalism even has a faculty member with a Ph.D. in statistics. To see how knowing statistics can pay off for a reporting career, take a look at Wall Street Journal “The Numbers” columnist Jo Craven McGinty or the staff at FiveThirtyEight.
In an AP blog post announcing the Guide’s new statistics chapter, Interactive Newsroom Technology Editor Troy Thibodeaux, who oversaw the development of the new chapter, said:
“Data journalism has evolved from a rarefied skill set that only computer-assisted reporters practiced to become an important tool in the toolkit of every journalist.”
Thibodeaux goes on to state that every reporter needs “basic quantitative understanding” to understand and draw their own conclusions from the data, because the organizations and companies reporters cover, across all beats, are using data to communicate.
“If journalists can’t draw their own conclusions from the data, then they’re left simply accepting at face value the findings of the people they cover.”
As noted above, statistics is the science of drawing conclusions from data, so aspiring and current reporters should include statistics courses in their studies in order to up their game.
The new data journalism chapter offers guidance for reporters regarding acquiring, evaluating, reproducing and reporting on data. It offers best practices for journalists to follow when reporting with data, and addresses the big questions at each stage of the data reporting process.
These practices are key to maintaining transparency in journalism in a data-driven age. Statistical literacy is an increasingly critical skill for journalists and consumers alike as the issue of fake news continues to expand.
- Jeremy Singer-Vine has the Buzz on using Data in Journalism [Interview]
- Real or Fake News? Let Statistics Help: 7 Questions to Ask [Quick Guide]
- Stats + Stories: Spotting Fake News with the Guardian USA Data Editor Mona Chalabi [Podcast]
- 3 Ways to Spot a Bad Statistic [Video]
Meet Sharon Hessney, the Educator Behind the New York Times Learning Network’s “What’s Going On In This Graph?”
Sharon Hessney is an award-winning mathematics teacher in Boston and graph curator for the New York Times Learning Network’s “What’s Going In This Graph?” feature. She gave This is Statistics an in-depth look into her work and advice for students looking to start careers in the statistics field. Who inspired you to work in statistics education? The Advanced Placement Statistics community of experienced statistics teachers. AP Statistics emphasizes…
Thanks to all the students, parents and teachers who celebrated 2020 graduates with us by entering the June #StatsGrad contest! We’ve enjoyed looking through the your messages and videos submitted during our 2020 #StatsGrad contest. We’re excited to announce Erin Bugbee as this year’s winner! Erin received her Bachelor of Science degree with honors in statistics and Bachelor of Arts degree in behavioral decision sciences from Brown University. She is excited to continue her studies at Carnegie Mellon University as a behavioral decision…