One of the best things about writing for the sascom blog is the amazing number of people, both internally and externally, that have reached out to share their stories and perspective, and ask more questions. It’s important for us bloggers to remember that while we may not see published comments beneath our blogs, the post should always be the start, not the end, of a conversation.
I generally write from the analyst’s perspective – different things we can do as analysts to be successful in our personal and professional lives. I received an internal e-mail this morning from someone who had been reading some of my posts on analytics and asked a great question:
“I have a daughter graduating at the top of her class, very high SATs, very good in math, that really wants to major in journalism. She is also interested in politics, so is looking towards political journalism. I am strongly encouraging her to also focus on analytics and visualization, taking lots of statistics type courses during her college years. Are you aware of any really good resources that would emphasize the value of analytics in journalism? While it may seem intuitively obvious to you and I, it is hard to get this through to her.”
My undergrad degree is in English literature and writing – I came into the analytic space by accident – and as you can imagine, it’s often difficult to find jobs in liberal arts. Years later, I find that the skills I learned in that program have served me better than a more focused undergraduate degree (that’s where the Master’s degree came in handy). The disciplines of analytics, creative/critical thinking and writing/communication skills are incredibly intertwined. However, I also know that colleges and universities can be a little behind in bundling some of these subject areas together, so we need to take the lead on our own. Ask your journalism majors to take analytic classes and statisticians to take writing classes.
The work I’ve done over the past few years has been focused on teaching and educating statisticians and technologists on the importance of good critical thinking, writing and communication skills. But if you flip the coin, think of how important it is to have writers with excellent analytic skills. It’s an author’s job to accurately interpret and objectively communicate detailed information and data without bias – not many journalists (or even analysts!) do that well. If journalists (analysts!) really are crusaders of the truth, they should be held accountable for accurately portraying information in a way that is easily understood and interpreted by the reader. What recommendations can the analytic community make to help our budding young journalist? Are there good analytic resources that writers can tap into?