Journalism has the potential––and arguably the mandate––to expand public understanding of societally important phenomena. However, some methods for more effectively educating the public have been persistently underutilized: in particular, embedding informative numerical rates and efficient scientific explanations in news reports. In the current era of disrupting and downsizing the news business, the challenges to using such methods have only increased. To address this problem, this article seeks to (a) raise awareness about the psychological reasons that help explain why it is crucial to use such elements in news reports, and (b) exhibit some methods for doing so that require modest effort. Building on a review of relevant psychological literatures, principles, and existing reporting methods, we describe findings from a series of cognitive-scientific studies that demonstrate how using key––and relatively minimal––scientific and numerical elements can enhance public learning from news reports. We conclude by also describing curricula and resources designed to help journalists and bloggers use these methods.
Yarnall, Louise, and Michael A. Ranney. "Fostering Scientific and Numerate Practices in Journalism to Support Rapid Public Learning." Numeracy 10, Iss. 1 (2017): Article 3. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5038/1936-46188.8.131.52
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