Getting the gist at a glance

  • Kim Johnson - 3 July 2013

A Sapa report published in the The Citizen is a good example of how the representation of stats and data is vital in doing a story justice.

There’s nothing like a good solid statistic. Generally considered reliable and empirical indicators, it is no wonder that statistics and data are an important element of HIV treatment and prevention, used to represent how far we’ve come and often how far we have yet to go.

Last week the The Citizen featured a Sapa report which tried to do just that. Drawing on a recent UNAIDS report, the piece tried to get across information on major declines in HIV among children.

But given that the page 6 piece parroted a laundry list of stats, this report would have readers switched off in seconds, turning the page on the important issue of paediatric HIV.

Although the The Citizen's journalists certainly weren’t responsible for this stat-saturated report, the paper might have considered reworking the report and representing the data in a visual manner.

Simple and colourful pie charts, bar graphs and illustrations give readers all the information at a glance in an eye-catching and not to mention high-impact format.

Research and reports produced by organisations involved in the field of HIV could be considered the bread and butter of HIV reporting. But in using these reports as leads, journalists and editors should be careful to represent the information in an easy-to-digest and interesting way.

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“this report would have readers switched off in seconds, turning the page on the important issue of paediatric HIV”