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First International Data Journalism Awards winners announced

The Royal Statistical Society reports on the award of the first International Data Journalism Awards (DJA) organised by the Global Editors Network (GEN).

Data journalism is described in the piece by DJA jury leader Paul Steiger, who said that “digital techniques for capturing and making sense of data are taking their place among the most critical tools of journalism around the globe”.

A complete list of winners and honourable mentions, with links to the winning stories, is given on the RSS eNews website.

Investigative journalist attempts to test whether GCSE maths is ‘dumbed down’

Barnie Choudhury, principal lecturer at the University of Lincoln’s school of journalism with a background in investigative journalist, is taking the GCSE examinations in an attempt to “test whether or not the allegations made in recent years that exams had been ‘dumbed down’ were true”. An article in the Lincolnshire Echo says:

He sat his O-level in maths in 1981 and came out with a B grade.
If he does not match this when the GCSE grades are revealed in August, Mr Choudhury believes this will prove that exams today are harder.

Flaws in the experimental methodology left as an exercise for the reader, although Mr Choudhury hints at some when he is quoted saying:

A part of me is hoping that journalists are right – that exams are easier. But I see my daughter’s mathematics work now and I don’t know any of it. So I thought if she was going through the pain, then so would I and I’d see for myself how tough the exams are.
But now I’m wishing I hadn’t started. It has not been dumbed down at all – if anything, I’m finding it more difficult the second time around, even though I’m older and I’ve sat lots of exams in my life. Maybe my brain has slowed down but it really is difficult.

Source: University of Lincoln lecturer inspired to take maths GSCE by his children.

Awards for statistical excellence in journalism

Nominations are open for the Royal Statistical Society’s awards for statistical excellence in journalism. Eligible work must have been published or broadcast between 1 January 2011 and 31 December 2011.

Awards are to be made in three categories:

  • print publication
  • online publication
  • broadcast media

When nominating, you are asked to indicate in which area or areas you feel an entry has made a contribution from the following:

  • raised awareness and understanding of what statistics are and what they can be used for, and what statistical methods can achieve
  • enabled greater public understanding through an accessible analysis of the statistics put forward to support or challenge the claims of policy makers
  • sourced and used statistics to investigate a societal issue and have an impact on public opinion
  • used statistics well to challenge and/or change the decisions and policies of public or private bodies

Final judging takes place in June 2012 with announcements of winners made in early June 2012. Winners will be invited to be formally presented with their awards at the Royal Statistical Society’s Awards Reception on Tuesday, 4 September 2012.

Judging criteria and an entry form are available via the RSS website.

A dozen stats tips for journalists

A post on the website of the getstats campaign offers a dozen tips for journalists, who “increasingly have to have at least minimal competence in understanding stats and data, if they are going to do a creditable job”.

From a warning to think about the motivation of whoever “cooked up” the number in a press release, to putting figures in context to add to their impact, the list is aimed at the basic skill set that getstats thinks are “the basis for a journalistic career in the 21st century”. Your views on the items in the list are invited via the webpage.

getstats: What Journalists Need to Know(31 January 2012).

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