Tag Archives: uncertainty

Coronavirus: 3 ways journalists need to get to grips with uncertainty during the pandemic

R number ranges in different UK regions

R number ranges shown by the FT

Journalism doesn’t like uncertainty: editors are trained to cut out vagueness and journalists taught to be as concrete as possible in their reporting. In most cases it compels reporters to ensure they have a firm grip on the details and are confident in the story they are reporting.

But with coronavirus, this discipline becomes a systemic blind spot.

From prevalence to testing, and from deaths to infection rates, the story of this pandemic is full of uncertainty. Here, then, are 3 ways that journalists need to understand — and better communicate — the things that we don’t know, and won’t know, about it. Continue reading

A new data journalism tool – and a new way of reporting uncertainty

guesstimate: how long it takes to get ready for preschool

On the last day of last year, web developer Ozzie Gooen launched his new project Guesstimate, a spreadsheet ‘for things that aren’t certain’.

It is an inspired idea: software plays a key role in shaping what we do, and we take spreadsheets’ certainty about numbers for granted. Why should we?

Throw in journalism’s default dislike of ambiguity and a political tendency to play to that… well, it can all make for some flawed reporting.

I was so impressed with Guesstimate and the opportunities it presents for a new style of data reporting that I sought out Gooen to find out more about the project and how he came to launch it. Continue reading