Monday, September 15, 2008

another riff on numbers

Just a short one. You'd think that counting heads is pretty objective, right? It depends on whom you ask.

Bloomberg.com reports that recent crowd size estimates provided by the McCain campaign not only seem to be at variance with reporters' own observations but also with the officials who supposedly supplied the numbers in the first place.

Obvious lesson here: When you're covering a crowd, either count heads yourself or make sure you get estimates from more than one reliable source -- folks without a horse in the race. Which is why I am baffled as to why reporters would rely solely on the campaign's word. That's it. bk

2 comments:

Jeremy Herb said...

This same thing came up in my intro reporting class at Columbia when we all had to gather reaction from the Obama acceptance speech. In our stories, the stadium crowd ranged from 76,000 to 84,000, along with a middle-of-the-road "about 80,000."

My professor brought it up the discrepancy to make the same point you are making. And when we looked online at professional news stories, we found the same variance.

As for me? I didn't use the stadium crowd size in my story, just my own 130-person estimation of the crowd at the bar where I covered the speech.

Crete said...

Thanks for writing this.