Stats+Stories podcast partners with the American Statistical Association

By Richard Campbell, chair of media, journalism and film

John Bailer

John Bailer

These days, more than ever, statisticians and journalists share a common mission, especially when it comes to promoting the importance of evidence and data in a world increasingly complicated by social media. Though statisticians and journalists are not usually natural partners, that is not the case at Miami University.  

The first episode of the Stats+Stories podcast debuted four years ago and featured guests and a moderator chatting about “the statistics behind the stories and the stories behind the statistics” with Miami department chairs John Bailer, statistics, and Richard Campbell, media, journalism and film. Since then, guests have included network television executives, sports reporters, environmental researchers, data journalists and statisticians.  

Last year, the podcast caught the attention of the American Statistical Association (ASA), the largest professional organization of statisticians in the world with more than 18,000 members. 

Richard Campbell

Richard Campbell

ASA became a co-sponsor of Stats+Stories in January 2017 and now provides financial support for a part-time producer, student interns, transcription services and program promotion. To date, four current or past presidents of ASA have appeared on the podcast. Generating ideas for guests and program topics is a major benefit of the collaboration. 

The podcast made news in May, when John Thompson, director of the U.S. Census Bureau, resigned suddenly. Three weeks earlier, he had been a guest on two Stats+Stories episodes. In addition, the latest episode of Stats+Stories featured Mona Chalabi, a data journalist from The Guardian US, who discussed Thompson’s resignation and other topics.

Other recent episodes have featured Andrew Flowers, a freelance data journalist and a former quantitative editor at FiveThirtyEight.com, and David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge and president of the Royal Statistical Society. Spielgelhalter discussed his most recent book, Sex by Numbers, which “unravels the web of exaggerations, misdirections and downright lies that surround sex in modern society.”

The podcast is currently released twice a month and available at www.statsandstories.net and on iTunes. If you are interested in the challenges of telling complex stories about data and numbers, check out www.statsandstories.net and follow @statsandstories on Twitter.