How Journalists Establish Trust In Numbers And Statistics: Results From An Exploratory Study

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Date
2018-01-01
Authors
Van Witsen, Tony
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Altmetrics
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Abstract

Statistics are an essential part of science communication, yet there is little theory about how journalists decide which numbers to trust. Interviews with working journalists showed that many believe statistics are so real as to be unchallengeable. Journalists are more likely to be aware of the trust problem when they have experience with a particular statistic and know its construction. Overall, they tend to follow accepted statistical conventions observed by their beats in determining which numbers to use. This follows theories of trust in news sources and the cultural belief in the transparency of measured reality in general.

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