news numbers… and why they are important

Newsrooms are filled with people scared of numbers. For the most part, reporters and editors are word people. Many believe their readers are the same.

That’s where I’m a little different. I’m a numbers guy in a word workplace. I joke that someday I will write a story that includes nothing but numbers; no letters whatsoever.

While that may not be possible, good reporting begs for some use of numbers. And I believe readers can handle a dose of math.

Numbers can provide facts to support anecdotes. They can demonstrate trends. They can be the basis of good, investigative reporting even if only a few end up in print.

news numbers was created to help reporters and editors become more comfortable with numbers.

This site is a work in progress; so feel free to email your comments and suggestions.

Rich Exner, data analysis editor for the Northeast Ohio Media Group (NEOMG is a provider of content for cleveland.com, The Plain Dealer and Sun News)

About Rich Exner

Rich Exner

As the data analysis editor at the Northeast Ohio Media Group, I am responsible for database analysis and the use of mapping as a reporting tool throughout the newsroom, teaching reporters in CAR techniques, and developing interactive databases and maps for the Internet.

Previously, I was an assistant metro editor, a metro reporter mainly covering county government, transportation and tax topics, and a sports copy editor, and data analysis editor for The Plain Dealer. I worked there the creation of NEOMG, a sister company, in 2013.

Earlier in my career, I was the Cleveland bureau chief and Ohio state editor for United Press International, and a photographer and sports reporter for a variety of publications. I am a journalism graduate from The Ohio State University.

In addition to my work at NEOMG I write a column on Ohio State sports for the Buckeye Sports Bulletin and teach journalism as an adjunct faculty member at Cuyahoga Community College.

Professional associations

  • Board member for the Cleveland chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists
  • Journalism advisory board member for Lorain County Community College
  • Member of the Investigative Editors and Reporters organization


  • I have made presentations at SPJ and IRE/NICAR conferences, and been a guest speaker at Bowling Green State University, Kent State University, Cleveland State University and John Carroll University.

Continuing education

  • College classes in involving writing hard-coded websites (2009), designing websites with Dreamweaver (2010) and building database-driven websites with WordPress (2012).
  • Student, reporting Census 2010 workshop, Population Studies Center, University of Michigan, 2009.
  • Student, IRE Advanced Statistics Boot Camp, Arizona State University, 2009.
  • Student, IRE Mapping Boot Camp, University of Missouri, 2007.
  • Student, Beyond Welfare Reform fellowship program, Case Western Reserve University, 2001.
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