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History of Numeracy Education and Training for Print Journalists in England

Harrison, S (2014) History of Numeracy Education and Training for Print Journalists in England. Numeracy: Advancing Education in Quantitative Literacy, 7 (2). ISSN 1936-4660

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If the history of journalism education has been a footnote to accounts of the profession’s development, then the history of numeracy training for journalists must be considered a footnote to a footnote. Despite the universally acknowledged centrality of numbers to a clear understanding of the world, many journalism students and entrants are proudly number-phobic; it is even suggested that an aversion to maths is a key reason why some choose journalism as a career. This study traces the development of numeracy education for journalists in England. It is only with the incipient professionalisation of journalism from the mid-19th century that numeracy becomes problematic, partly because of the rise of mass education in the 1870s and partly because of the changing nature of news. Yet - drawing on manuals, biographies and personal accounts – it turns out it was as late as the 1940s before any systematic plan to counter the prevailing literary leanings of journalists was proposed, and a further 30 years before this took root in the academy. The picture today is mixed, with professional and accreditation bodies, industry-sponsored initiatives, non-journalism organisations and academic institutions all playing a part. The consequences of this are evident in misreported or under-reported news stories. The lack of a coherent approach to numeracy training, or even agreement as to what it should comprise, exposes a critical weakness in journalism’s mission to explain.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: numeracy; journalism; education; training; quantitative literacy; data journalism
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN4699 Journalism
Divisions: Screen School
Publisher: National Numeracy Network
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2015 08:58
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 13:59
DOI or ID number: 10.5038/1936-4660.7.2.2
Editors: Vacher, HL and Wallace, DI
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/1959
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