Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Importance of Data

Our brain absorbs information in many different ways. Some people understand through quantitative information and others through qualitative information. Therefore it is important to have data, numbers, words, and images in newspaper. As our world becomes very data-oriented. we find ourselves asking “how much?”, “how many?”, and “what amount?”

Numbers and data give us a new way of understanding the news. In fact, some news greatly depends on data, because without it, news seems incomplete. For example if a bomb blast took place in Karachi, the news would be incomplete if we did not report how many died, what date and time the event occurred, how much damage was done, and what amount of money is being spent for recovery.

Thus, numerical data sometimes provides the basis for a news article. If only words are used to present a story, then it may be skewed. Our bomb blast example may be reported qualitatively or quantitatively. Here’s the difference:

Qualitative: “In Waziristan, during a bomb blast, some people died, many got injured, and a lot of houses were destroyed.”

Quantitative: “In Waziristan, a bomb blast killed 16 people, injured more than 20, and destroyed nearly 15 houses.”

In first news lede, if people heard it, they would immediately want to know that exactly how many people died, exactly how many got injured, and exactly how
many houses were destroyed. In second lede, the journalist already answers those questions and does not leave the reader thirsty. Therefore, the second lede is much more reliable and informative.

However, it is important to keep in mind that journalists—and all professional writers—take advantage of presenting quantitative data. Using percentages is different than fractions, which is different than decimals. Because not everyone is literate in the different mathematical uses of numerical data, it can confuse or even deceive people. It is unethical to purposefully use quantitative data to mislead one’s readers.
By Fatima Qureshi

No comments:

Post a Comment