Friday 22 June 2012, 12:05
A new College of Journalism course on stats recommends that, although it’s easy to find figures online, journalists should know a few by heart.
The idea isn’t that you won’t check facts when you use them, but rather that some key numbers in your head can serve as reference points for new information you come across, giving you a sense of scale against which to measure it.
So, how to assess the £3bn paid for the TV rights for three years of the Premier League? Well, it's in the same ballpark as the BBC's annual budget of £3.5bn.
Perhaps more importantly, the right key figure can help you to spot when something is likely to be wrong.
Of course, which figures you should know depends on the field you cover.
For what it’s worth here’s my list. To be useful, the numbers have to be simple: you don’t need what comes after the decimal point. But I’ve also given the sources and the exact numbers for completion:Total of 62,435,709 people to be precise, in 2011.
There were 26.3 million households in the UK in 2011.
Gross domestic product: £1,507,585m in 2011.
Total 'managed expenditure': £691,666m, 2010-11.
Cost of the NHS: £99,018m, 2010-11.
Social security budget: £170,403m, 2010-11.
About £25bn a month.
Weekly pay (inc. bonuses): £467, April 2012.
8.2% of the economically active population, Feb-Apr 2012.
29.28m people in employment aged 16 and over.
Figure is expectancy for those born in 2010.
Again, for those born in 2010.
7,021,297,230, 21 June 2012.
502,476,606 in 2011, about 7% of global population.
1,347,350,000, end of 2011, about 20% of global population.
313,785,651, 21 June 2012, about 4.5% of global population.
Market cap of Apple: $546.84bn, 20 June 2012.
Carlos Slim Helu and family, Mexican telecoms tycoon, Mar 2012.
£3,513m from the licence fee, with a bit more from commercial operations and government grant-in-aid.
I have not included, but you may want to:
Oh, what the heck… why not?
238,855 miles on average.
Reporting big numbers: College of Journalism film with Robert Peston, Stephanie Flanders and others.
More or Less: Radio 4 programme with Tim Harford, looking at numbers and statistics.
Making Sense of Statistics (BBC staff only): the College of Journalism course mentioned above.
Tuesday 19 June 2012, 08:57
Monday 25 June 2012, 15:18