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Essential Math for Business Journalists: Online tutorial

Stumped by the difference between a mean and a median? Unsure when to use percent versus percentage point?

Maybe you went into journalism to avoid math, but fear not. Most analysis in business journalism involves just basic arithmetic. Review the formulas in this tutorial, and in 20 minutes, you’ll be up to speed on how to calculate percent of a whole, percentage change, average, median and mode, plus how to round.

What You Will Learn

How to:

  • Calculate percent of a whole and percentage change.
  • Calculate average (or mean), median and mode.
  • Round numbers.
  • Use percent versus percentage point.

The tutorial will explain each concept and then offer you a chance to apply what you’ve learned to a real-world exercise. It concludes with an 11-question quiz, again using examples that business journalists are likely to encounter, plus a resource list of books and websites for more information.

Tutorial Length

The tutorial will take about 20 minutes to complete.

Your Instructor

A former business editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Linda Austin became executive director of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism in 2009.

Technical Requirements

To access the tutorial, you will need Adobe Flash, which you can download for free. You will also need a computer with Internet access and speakers to hear the audio.

Tutorial instructions

Please click the link below to open the tutorial, which you will view using Adobe Flash (download it). It will play automatically. You can pause the tutorial at any time by clicking the pause button. To restart, click the pause button again. Click on the buttons with arrows to advance or backtrack through the slides, or use the list of slides on the side to skip around in the tutorial.

Essential Math for Business Journalists

What else would you like to learn?

We welcome your feedback on this tutorial and on which other subjects you’d like us to develop tutorials. Please e-mail Linda Austin, executive director of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, or call 602-496-9187. This free tutorial — and free workshops and webinars — offered by the Reynolds Center are made possible by a grant from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. The center also provides daily tips on how to cover business better on its website, BusinessJournalism.org.


About the Author

Linda Austin is the executive director of the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism. A former business editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, she spent a decade as a top newsroom leader, serving as the editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader in Kentucky; executive editor of The News-Sentinel in Fort Wayne, Ind.; and managing editor of the News & Record in Greensboro, N.C. She offers business-story ideas and notes good #bizreads @LindaAustin_

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