MEDSTAT IV discussed the results achieved with two project’s targeted activities aiming at improving the relation between statisticians and journalists and at increasing the capacities for data visualisation (Bordeaux, February 27-28, 2019)
The journalists are important users of statistics as they relay information to different other categories of users. If they understand the data, what they say and how they are build, they may be in a better position to analyse them and to relay an information of quality. This may in turn have an impact on the level of trust and confidence that people put on official statistics. After an intense work at the regional level, MEDSTAT IV coached national teams to prepare and deliver training projects involving statisticians and journalists (Communication for statistics – C4S). The national teams developed country-tailored processes of different kind from training courses involving only statisticians to ones involving only journalists or to courses for both audiences. In most countries, only one course was delivered (2 or 3 days) but in Israel and Morocco, the processes developed as series of articulated workshops on different statistical topics.
The country experiences were presented and discussed in all their details and all the statistical offices present in the meeting acknowledged the usefulness and the interest of improving the relations with the journalists and to make the exercise an integral part of their regular training programmes. They all agree that there are mutual benefits from a deeper relation.
There are today in the region more than 20 persons who have been trained to the C4S tools and approach and have a hands-on experience in delivering such training course; there is plenty of training material available developed by the project and by the national teams. There is thus a large potential for replicating the course and adjust it to different levels in the relation statisticians/journalists.
The way people consume information and statistics has evolved dramatically in the last 5 years, this being mainly a consequence of the rapid development of the social media. Statisticians must today satisfy an audience of users who wants quick and attractive answers. Traditional dissemination products for statistics don’t match this new demand; the statistical offices must adjust quickly and develop data visualisation tools that better correspond to the needs. Doing this requires the mobilisation of capacities and tools that may not exist in the statistical offices: there is a need for investing in software and applications as well as in the strengthening of human resources. In a time when budgets are scarce, there is a benefit to draw in exchanging experiences, identifying good practices and sharing investments.
Each country presented in turn the data visualisation products it developed in the recent years, such as infographics, videos, visual animations, alone or with the support of the project. The development of all these products was made as a collaborative effort between different capacities: statisticians, designers, communication experts, IT people. Most of them were also tested with users’ groups in order to check their relevance. What was presented during the meeting was of very fine quality and the region is filling quickly the gap. There are still needs for more training and more sharing of good practices.
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