Note: In April 2014 we published the white paper Using Cost-Benefit Analysis for Justice Policymaking. It is intended for a diverse audience, including journalists; elected officials and their staff; policymakers; people who work in adult or juvenile justice systems; and service providers.
When you’re reporting or writing about a cost-benefit study, it’s your job to extract the most important findings and decipher them for your audience, a group that’s probably not made up of analysts and economists.
Writing about cost-benefit analysis is hard. Writing or reporting about it on deadline is even harder. How do you tease out a study’s most important findings to tell a story your audience will care about and grasp?
For starters, here are three mistakes to avoid when reporting on cost-benefit results:
- Don’t equate benefits and savings.
Interesting. When journalists gave their colleagues an “analysis assignment” about a recent criminal justice study, some of the questions sounded familiar, in a good way.
Journalist’s Resource, a project of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Society, promotes the use of “knowledge-based reporting” and considers news topics “through a research lens.” So when an editor wrote last month about a study of community prosecution in Chicago, we had a look at these “media/analysis tips” posted on the project’s website:
- What are the study’s key technical terms?