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Journalists wrestle with math: WSJ

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January 20, 2006

Journalists wrestle with math: WSJ

Stephen Baker

Good article in the Wall Street Journal (free)about working with journalists on basic math. Richard Holden, the longtime editor who runs a seminar, says that journalists "always prided themselves on knowing so little about math." Why anyone, especially in a profession dedicated to knowledge, would find pride in ignorance is baffling. It's probably just a defense.

In any case, the article says that specialists in economics, business and sports buck the mathophobic trend in journalism. I would qualify that, saying "some specialists." After all, if business specialists were "notable exceptions" to journalism's math trouble, the reporters at the Journal wouldn't need the seminars.

The story ends with a copy-editing quiz full of math challenges. This one, for example:

Chipper Jones is batting just .176 in 85 at-bats with the Braves. But he has had more success as a pinch hitter, with five hits in 30 at-bats, including one that clinched a playoff spot.

08:17 AM


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