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Using data (without putting people to sleep). Dorie Turner Nolt Assistant Director of Communications Georgia Department of Education Recovering Journalist. (An actual PowerPoint slide posted on our website). Data doesn’t have to be complicated.

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slide1

Using data (without putting people to sleep)

Dorie Turner Nolt

Assistant Director of Communications

Georgia Department of Education

Recovering Journalist

slide3

Data doesn’t have to be complicated.

Reporters like simple, straight-forward facts they can put in stories.

Don’t make it hard for them. They’re not very good at math.

slide4

Complicated data doesn’t

have to be complicated

Source: Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education

slide5

Complicated data doesn’t

have to be complicated

Source: Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education

states with improved sat scores
States with Improved SAT Scores

Georgia Department of Education

states with improved sat and act scores
States with Improved SAT and ACT Scores

Georgia Department of Education

states with improved sat act and ap scores
States with Improved SAT, ACT, and AP Scores

Georgia Department of Education

states with improved sat act ap naep math and naep reading scores
States with Improved SAT, ACT, AP, NAEP Math and NAEP Reading Scores

Georgia Department of Education

states with improved sat act ap naep math naep reading and naep science scores
States with Improved SAT, ACT, AP, NAEP Math, NAEP Reading and NAEP Science Scores

Georgia Department of Education

slide16

Working with reporters

(they don’t bite – at least not all of them)

Dorie Turner Nolt

Assistant Director of Communications

Georgia Department of Education

Recovering Journalist

slide17

Tips from a former reporter

  • What do YOU want to read? Pitch that story to reporters.
  • Relationships, relationships, relationships.
  • Know when to cut your losses and move on. You can’t fight every battle with every reporter.
  • Give your go-to reporters a chance at writing the story before you send out the press release.
  • Don’t forget: They need YOU. You hold the keys to what they want.
  • Most small papers don’t have data experts or graphic artists. Use that to your advantage.
tips from actual reporters
Tips from actual reporters
  • Respond as efficiently as possible. Journalists work on deadline.
  • During an interview, don't read off a press release. They need more information beyond what they've already read.
  • If information is on background or off-the-record, say so beforehand. 
  • Unless absolutely necessary, email interviews are not preferable. Most people don't communicate the same way in writing as they do in speech. Written out responses to questions often come across as stilted and unnatural. 
  • Many reporters do not like to send questions in advance of an interview. 
tips from actual reporters1
Tips from actual reporters
  • Don't say "you need to write it just like this." You want people to trust that you can do your job. Trust that they can do theirs. 
  • You're going to have to have steady relationships with reporters. You have two choices. Your relationships can be collegial or they can be adversarial. Collegial is better. 
  • If you want good play in a story - a chance to really give your side - don't email a prepared statement 30 minutes after deadline and then complain that it was edited down.
  • Beat the deadline by hours, give a live comment, be prepared to respond to a follow up question. You look better in print that way.