Dealing with Data: Statistics for Journalists

Module code: JNL6046

"Now that information is abundant, processing is more important" – Philip Meyer

News reporting relies increasingly on knowing how to understand and analyse data. Data science is the scientific discipline that feeds into this new type of journalism. It provides methods for collecting and systematising data, which is then analysed using a combination of statistical and machine learning techniques, and finally presented in an appealing and understandable format. This module will equip students with the confidence to appreciate and apply the most widely used statistical techniques, which constitute the very core of data science and, hence, facilitate responsible evidence-based journalism.

You'll learn the key concepts in statistics and how they can be used in information gathering and news production. By the end of the module you will be able to read statistical reports and to summarise them to generate news for the broadest audience. You'll also be able to critically read statistical reports and to spot inconsistencies which can guide follow-up investigative journalistic questions. Finally, you'll be prepared to work with experts – statisticians and data analysts, and communicate competently on issues and questions related to statistics and data, more generally.

You will not need a background in mathematics or data science to take this module: it assumes no prior expertise in the subject.

Module aims

  • to prepare students to work competently and accurately with numbers and statistics in news reporting
  • to make students aware of the importance of data and statistics in today's reporting
  • to make students able to critically assess statistical reports and results and, from that, to generate new investigative questions
  • to enable students to undertake a statistical analysis of newsworthy public data independently
  • to make students confident in working with data and statistical specialists to produce accessible journalism (news, reports etc)

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Please note: module details given here may be subject to change. If you need more information, please contact us.