[Ed. – CNN still in search of something it can do competently.]
If there’s one thing we’ve learned in the Internet age, it’s that journalists make a lot of mistakes. (Believe me, I’ve made my share of boneheaded ones.) But there are a few areas where journalistic ignorance really seems to persist, and basic math is one of them. With that in mind, look at [the above] chyron from CNN last night, passed on to me by an old colleague. Notice anything wrong?
I’m pretty confident my nine-year-old could look at that and tell me that 36 is not 12.43 percent of 448. Thirty-six divided by 448 is 0.0803, or 8 percent almost right on the nose. However, 448 divided by 36 is 12.44, so it appears that someone did the math exactly backwards, slapped the percent symbol on the end, and put it on the air. (How they got 12.43 instead of 12.44 is further puzzling.)
Anyway, perhaps this isn’t the most consequential error ever, but it does seem very illustrative of a particular problem. Math is hugely important to journalism, and it’s important to remember that a great many journalistic mistakes go unnoticed.
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