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Posts Tagged ‘statistics’

15 Resources For Journalists To Learn About Statistics

Journalists don’t do math? In an age of open data, that’s an excuse that no longer flies.  The list below, compiled from the smart people on the NICAR listserv thanks to a request from The Associated Press’ Michelle Minkoff, contains resources to help you get started with the basics of statistics and data analysis.

1. “New Precision Journalism” by Phillip Meyer (Book)

“The New Precision Journalism” shows journalists and students of journalism how to use the new technology to analyze data and provide more precise information in easier-to-understand form. It covers the history of journalism in the scientific tradition, various elements and techniques of data analysis, the use of statistics, computers, surveys, and field experiments, database applications, how to do an election survey, and the politics of precision journalism. This is an important resource for working journalists and an indispensable text for all journalism majors.

2. ”How to Lie with Statistics” by Darrell Huff (Book)

 Darrell Huff runs the gamut of every popularly used type of statistic, probes such things as the sample study, the tabulation method, the interview technique, or the way results are derived from the figures, and points up the countless number of dodges which are used to fool rather than to inform.

3. Coursera: Passion Driven Stats (Online Course)

In this project-based course, you will have the opportunity to answer a question that you feel passionately about through independent research based on existing data. Students will have the opportunity to develop skills in generating testable hypotheses, preparing data for analysis, conducting descriptive and inferential statistical analyses, and presenting research findings.

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A Journalist’s Quick Primer on Who Uses Cell Phones (and How)

A big push in journalism right now? Mobile. An important piece of information for knowing how to make a good journalism strategy for mobile? How people actually use mobile.

There are many types of “mobile” out there, of course (mobile phones, yes, but also an increasing amount of tablets and the like). But the Pew Internet and American Life project just compiled much of its research on cell phone usage and demographic statistics into one handy location. And because the cell phone is still the major mobile device, I thought it might prove helpful to highlight some significant stats as they relate to journalism strategy.

Many of these stats may at first seem most helpful to those dabbling in the business of journalism, but knowing them could also benefit to the savvy journalist. Some stats may be promising for your strategy; some may be a reality check. In any case, “knowing your audience” (and source) is always important, as we have blogged about heavily as of late.

The connected world is not quite flat. It’s worthwhile to have a baseline of probability for content success or finding the right social voices in a pinch.

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Instagram, Like Other Social Media, a ‘Police Scanner’ for a Demographic

Instagrammed screenshot of a picture of SnapRecognizing a new tool at The Boston Globe is a gateway to worthwhile discussion on social media strategy: not everyone likes, has access to or uses the same digital thing. And that’s great for journalism.

Journalism.co.uk has a nice read on the wall-o-local-Instagram pics that the Globe is test-driving in its newsroom. Appropriately named “Snap,” the project is a result of a partnership with the MIT Media Lab, and it displays every local Instagram image on a big map of the area. Neat on its own (i.e., worthy of an Instagrammed pic of its own), and notably, it’s also being used for helping find sources for local stories.

There’s definite newsroom utility to display social media data like this on a map. You naturally are exposed to events, with pictorial evidence, that you may not have otherwise paid attention towards. And you can can pinpoint where that action is happening. That’s practical on a day-to-day basis, and particularly helpful during event like Hurricane Sandy, where much is going on and you’re looking to move your reporting fast. It’s clearly a useful tool (and if it isn’t yet clear, I’d certainty love to play with it.)

What I think is worth noting beyond the obvious ingenuity, however, was the main story that according to the article Chris Marstall, creative technologist at the Boston Globe, actually produced during Hurricane Sandy. After spending “about eight hours staring at Snap” during the storm, this piece says that Marstall didn’t know what story to pick up and write. “Eventually I figured out that the interesting story to tell was that everybody was staying home and getting drunk in their apartments, doing a lot of day drinking,” he said.

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A Consideration for Digital Reporting: Who Posts Political Stories to Social Media?

If you’re a journalist (and especially if you’re a political journalist), a new stat worth knowing about social media usage came out a couple days after last week’s piece on “The Twitter Narrative,” a look at who is on and uses Twitter.

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project’s “Social Media and Political Engagement” report, just 28 percent of American social media users have “used the tools to post political stories or articles for others to read.”

Interesting on its own, but better with context. What’s the percentage of “social media users” in America? According to Pew’s report, it’s 60 percent who use “social networking sites” (categorized as Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+)  and/or uses Twitter. In other words, it’s 28 percent of only 60 percent of Americans who are the ones sharing the political links you see during your daily reporting activities. Doing the math, that’s under 17 percent who are social media-sharing the political links you eat and breathe.

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5 Stats on Who Makes “The Twitter Narrative” (and/or Who’s On and Uses Twitter)

It’s increasingly rare (at least from a digitally entrenched perspective) to imagine a journalist watching a presidential debate without simultaneously watching his or her tweets. This is certainly fine, and in many cases, helpful. But with CJR’s recent piece on “pack journalism” and in light of some recent studies on Twitter makeup and preferences, I figured it’d be good to review a handful of the findings together and what they may mean for journalists.

The larger aim is that a thorough understanding of the Twitter community – placed at least in the back of one’s head – could help one from being heavily influenced by that scary hive-mind (if it’s true), and regardless, put into perspective the general sentiments that may soak in when one repeatedly scans TweetDeck.

Understanding the community in any medium you regularly use, not just Twitter, is a good practice. There is always a filter bubble wherever we engage online—we tend to regularly admit that, and some of us take steps to pop it by whom we follow and what we search for. The recent findings I’ve compiled about Twitter, however, seem of a particular importance, for they shed some light on what may be a wider filter bubble (“filter fish tank”?) of what is increasingly many journalists’ anchor.

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