Take a number — and put it in context

not teaching, still THINKING … Election ads. Full of increases, decreases, numbers and percentages. Whether you are consuming news about the upcoming elections or you are engaged in campaign coverage, here are some quick tips about putting numbers into context that might help. These tips are intended to empower you to publish clear stories that […]

Warning signs that context is missing

A close cousin to background in a story is context. Together, they might account for no more than two paragraphs or so in a story. They are powerful in their presence and conspicuous in their absence. Here are some warning signs that context or background is missing. Uncertainty over the answer to any of the […]

Context essential in any story

As I was reading the latest news today about the conflict between North Korea and South Korea, I came upon a couple of paragraphs tucked in a New York Times story that added value to my understanding of the situation. The paragraphs provided: Context Background History They told me why this crisis is different from […]

Put oil spill numbers in perspective

Numbers. They drive me — and most everyone — crazy. Case in point: The spill in the Gulf is variously described as dumping 5,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf every day, or 200,000 gallons. (Indeed, there are 42 gallons in a barrel, so the math works.) How much is this? What does it mean? […]