Find a news story that uses numbers in at least three ways. How has the reporter used numbers to tell the story? Are the numbers overwhelming? If so, how could the reporter have made it easier to grasp? Did the reporter use math to crunch numbers and tell the story more effectively? What are the sources of those numbers? Are they listed completely?
By Karen Elizondo
The New York Times recently had a story on sports and their promotion of healthy weight in teenagers.
The numbers used in the story help with the explanation of what this study found. The numbers explain that if children "actively" commute to school and participate in at least 2 sports a year (one each season) the prevalence of obesity would drop dramatically.
The reporter also found statistics outside of the study he was writing about in order to enhance the objective of the study and further explain what needs to be done about obesity.
The numbers are actually very clear and not overwhelming. They present a picture of what obesity is now and what it could be if America makes a change. Similar to a "before and after" picture.
It appears as though the reporter probably did some simple math to illustrate a drop or an increase in percentages. This, in turn, made the story much easier to read and understand.
The souces of the numbers are a study done by Dr. Drake, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Hood Center for Children and Families at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, and a program website called Safe Routes, to promote active commuting.
The author also use "past studies" to get his numbers but never fully cited them or linked to them in the story. Dr. Drake's study and the Safe Routes were hyperlinks in the story so readers could verify where the numbers originated from.