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Analysis: Numbers

The Associated Press story, "Magnitude-6.3 quake hits northeast of Rome," uses numbers in several ways. The value in magnitude of an earthquake (6.3) is used to frame the, well, magnitude of such an event in the news as a whole. A value of distance (in kilometers and miles), denoting the value of the radius this earthquake affected, and a value for time, listed in two different ways, help frame the where and when of the event. The numbers are slightly overwhelming when values of time and distance are listed under two different systems (for example, miles and kilometers), but this is necessary since the Associated Press is a global journalistic institution. The reporter had to use math in order to come up with these conversions and it is effective in helping the reporter's diverse audience picture the event. The sole source of these numbers comes from the U.S. Geological Survey, which it seems gave values in kilometers and Greenwich Mean Time. The reporter lists these values in between parentheses, though only after listing the more familiar units (to a U.S. audience) of miles and Eastern Standard Time.

Associated Press. "Magnitude-6.3 quake hits northeast of Rome."
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090406/ap_on_re_eu/eu_italy_earthquake