Hasn’t anyone told them yet?


I was reading a shot article in the Metro yesterday morning, and couldn’t finish it. I didn’t know why so I looked at the article as a whole. Then I realised, the article was just FULL of numbers. 35 figures in one short article. The full length of the article was a mere 215 words. This means 16% of the article is numbers, which is 1 number every 7 words!!

This is the article ( I have highlighted all numbers. If you can’t make it through the article, jump to **):

Pregnancy rate among UK teenagers falls to 30-year low

Pregnancy rates among teenagers are at their lowest level for almost 30 years but have risen dramatically among women in their 30s and 40s.

There was a 5.9 per cent fall in rates among under-18s between 2008 and 2009, to 38.3 per 1,000 teenagers aged 15 to 17, the Office for National Statistics reveals Overall, there were 38,259 pregnancies in this age group in 2009 compared with 41,361 in 2008, a decline of 7.5 per cent.

Among under 16s, there was a 5.6 per cent drop to 7,158 in 2009. Some 60 per cent of these pregnancies led to an abortion.

The biggest increase in conception rates was among women aged 30 to 34 – a 3.5 per cent leap between 2008 and 2009.

The data for England and Wales showed a big jump among women aged 35 to 39 and those aged 40 and over.

In the latter group, rates almost doubled from 6.6 per 1,000 in 1990 to 12.8 in 2009, with the number falling pregnant more than doubling from 12,000 to 26,800.

Simon Blake, national director of Brook sexual health charity, said: ‘It is good news that the teenage pregnancy rates have decreased as this shows the amount of good work that has been taking place around the country over the last ten years.’

**I wonder if they know about data journalism? The article wouldv’e been a lot more attractive if they had used graphs and images to draw up a comparison, rather than number after number, making it increddibly difficult to understand the article.

I tried to unravel the numbers from the article to draw up graphs, to demonstrate how the article could’ve (and possibly should’ve) been presented. However, even this is too difficult, as the journalist doesn’t focus on a narrow enough rise or fall in numbers. He instead writes about pregnancy rates in under 18s between 2008-2009, teenagers aged 15-17, pregnancy in the under 16s, abortion rates, 30-34 year old women, 35-39 year old women, and those aged over 40. It’s partly down to poor journalism. But data journalism would’ve redeemed it, even if only slightly. And I’m sure more readers would’ve got to the end of the article!

Julia Greenaway (juliacgreenaway)

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