Good and bad statistical reporting

Two stories in our newspaper (The Independent) for Monday 21st October contrasted in their handling of statistics.  I have mentioned the absurdity of reporting "average house prices" before. 

In the paper, we were solemnly told that:

  • Asking prices for London properties have climbed to £544,231 (note that accuracy)
  • National prices rebounded 2.8% to an average £252,418 (at least the percentage is given to a reasonable number of significant digits)
  • Prime inner London property has reached stratospheric levels at £937,110
In contrast there was a report, that the Waste and Resources Action Programme had calculated the food waste in the UK:
  • two thirds of produce grown for bagged salads, just under half of bakery goods and four out of ten apples are thrown away  

The second is giving sensible accuracy, easy to understand and grasp for the casual reader.  Why couldn't the first story (obviously copied from a press release) be given in similar terms? 


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