thinking and analysis using a variety of intellectual
tools and methods to understand multiple phenomena and to communicate the
results of those insights to multiple
audiences in a variety of ways.
These tools and methods are far
more sophisticated than the traditional 5 Ws and H of classic journalism, but
they are rarely novel and often well known outside of journalism. Indeed, analytic journalists consciously and constantly survey all other professional
disciplines searching for methods that can be used by
journalists to do more insightful, meaningful stories. The disciplines range from accounting
(forensic accounting and performance measurement) to medicine and public health
(epidemiology) to zoology (measuring relationships between species and
There are some similarities
between computer-assisted reporting (CAR) and analytic journalism. Both typically retrieve and analyze
quantitative data, or translate qualitative data into quantitative data for
more precise analysis, especially over time.
Analytic journalists, though, seek methods beyond crunching numbers on a
spreadsheet or running filtering algorithms on a database.
Our working premise: Democracy only exists by the will and action of an informed
citizenry. Ergo, citizens need to know:
The state of their society if they are to make informed
decisions about what their government and society should be doing
What is the condition of their government and society
What the government and society are doing
What the government and society plans to do
How well the government and society are performing
relative to their own standards, the expectations of citizens and similar
institutions around the nation or world.
The fundamental questions
underlying all of this are:
What do we journalists know and how do we know it? (Just having someone telling us isn’t
sufficient, especially if they are telling us anecdotes.)
How do we measure change and over time and place?