Calculating crowds
January 18th, 2009 by analyticjournalism

It's good to see some analytic methods creeping into event coverage, at least when it comes to a known site and an event with a long walk-up.

A couple days ago, IAJ co-director Steve Doig had a piece on “How big will inaugural crowd be? Do the math When people gather in vast numbers, 'official' estimates often run wild.” Steve suggests that the wild numbers running toward 4 million are simply not possible. You can't put a gallon in a quart jar.

The NBC Chicago also weighed in with 'Record or Not, No Head Count Planned for Inaugural.” This story, like Doig's, discusses how contentious crowd-counting can be, especially if the methodology is shall we say “Informal.”

And Saturday, old friend Ford Fessenden, at the New York Times, and his colleagues offered up “A Million Here, a Million There.” The Times' graphic does a great job of mapping the Mall in Washington and giving some good estimates of the crowd.


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