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For radio, limit the numbers and focus on where the data lead you

These construction workers are in Bulgaria, but KUOW reporter John Ryan found that construction workers in Washington state attracted a disproportionate share of attention from OSHA. Photo by Flickr user USACE Europe District.

John Ryan of radio station KUOW in Seattle found that construction workers get a disproportionate amount of scrutiny from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, while workers in other dangerous jobs are often overlooked. The transcript from part 2 of the his five-part series says:

For many high-risk workers, a visit from a safety inspector is a once–in–a–lifetime kind of event.”

John says he paired inspection records with employment statistics over the past decade in an Excel document. He worked the data into pivot tables to find patterns, industry by industry. But unlike in print, he had to report without including many numbers.

Today’s Tip: For radio, focus on where the data lead you, rather than the data itself, John says.

John Ryan, reporter, KUOW, Seattle

John Ryan

“Radio is generally a poor medium for presenting statistics (in one ear, out the other),” he says. “Finding that the safety of health-care workers was largely being ignored by state regulators, I zoomed in on that sector with a couple of stories on violence in emergency rooms and psychiatric hospitals.”

The station did post a chart summarizing the findings on its website, although most of its audience tunes in over the airwaves, he says.

If you’d like to learn more about constructing and analyzing databases, check out the Reynolds Center’s free workshops on computer-assisted reporting for business journalists on Sept. 13 in Seattle and Nov. 8 in Cleveland.

Coming tomorrow: John’s tip on finding data.

About the Author

Rosland Gammon is a former business journalist turned college instructor. Her newsroom experience includes reporting for The Philadelphia Inquirer, and reporting and editing at Bloomberg News. Gammon currently teaches communications at Alverno College in Milwaukee. Follow her daily posts. | E-mail: Rosland Gammon

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