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This is a session of Topic 5: Statistics education and the wider society             Full topic list

(Monday 3rd, 14:00-15:30)

Statistics and journalism



Statisticians often complain about the mistakes and inadequacies of media treatment of their discipline. However, statisticians as well as journalists must bear responsibility for accurate, informative reporting. It is to the advantage of both professions to work together on developing statistical literacy in the public. The use and misuse of the reporting and interpretation of statistics affect decisions in the legal, economic, environmental, medical, and business fields. It is important that the public be well informed about the bases for the judgments that heavily affect their lives.

Two major points to be covered for statisticians are how to respond to journalists’ inquiries - for example, how to frame a good 60-second sound bite - and how to be proactive in securing adequate coverage for the statistical aspects of important issues. Practitioners from both disciplines will contribute to the elucidation of these issues. From the other side, the question of what constitutes adequate training and understanding on the part of journalists and what are their obligations in reporting on statistical matters will also be addressed by both journalists and statisticians. Considerations of the similarities and differences involved in print, radio, TV, and Internet reporting will also be addressed; the perspectives of those from both developed and developing countries will be presented.


PaperTitlePresenter(s) / Author(s)
5C1Challenges in modeling and communicating rare and emerging infectious diseases related to blood safetySusie ElSaadany (Canada)
5C2Working together with the media — experiences of Statistics FinlandReija Helenius (Finland)
5C3Building houses on straw polls: a brief look at some current statistical reporting by journalists in New ZealandWarren Palmer (New Zealand)
Anthony Crawford