Democracy and participation

Lies, More Lies, and Statistics!


Who is behind this?

Varoon Bashyakarla


Idea Sketch


Idea pitch

After the US presidential election in 2016, the snap election in the UK, the original and re-run Kenyan presidential elections, the Austrian legislative elections, and others in 2017,
modern democracy's interconnectedness with technology has never been stronger. In a world increasingly reliant on data, journalists must possess the skills to effectively question, report on, and explain these technologies. In order to do so, they must possess basic statistical literacy.

Where will your idea take place?

Berlin, Germany

Why does Europe need your idea?

One of the greatest challenges of democracy is how vulnerable it is to the technologies we all use. While this problem has many aspects, one of the easiest to address is the manner in which journalists report on these issues. This pitch aims to equip journalists with basic statistical fluency.

What is your impact?

If this project is selected, journalists reporting on matters related to how data is used will be better equipped to ask questions, to frame their reporting, and to communicate technical ideas. This is part of a longer-term investment that will not be realized overnight or fully in just one year.

How do you get there?

• Survey journalists about the data-related challenges and opportunities they have encountered to better understand their needs
• Partner with a few European news organizations (TBD)
• Build a curriculum together with selected news partners based on the survey topics with greatest demand. Basic statistical thinking will be incorporated.
• Deliver this content in some capacity as a partnership (whether through an in-person summit of journalists/editors, an online medium, etc. TBD)

What is your story?

Journalism is central to any functioning democracy. As a former Silicon Valley Data Scientist, I believe there is a great need for statistical literacy. In a world that increasingly relies on data and statistics, journalists must possess basic statistical fluency to do their work effectively.

Who are you doing it for?

The audience for this pitch is, first and foremost, journalists based in Europe and secondly, members of civil society and the larger public who engage with the work of these journalists.

What do you need from the Advocate Europe community?

I want help identifying strong and weak references to / uses of data in European news. I also want help identifying news organizations interested in building more statistical literacy. Finally, I’m open to any feedback from anyone who has reviewed this pitch.



Idea created on Jan. 16, 2018
Last edit on March 2, 2018

Write comment