A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from June 13, 2014
“Journalists become journalists because they aren’t any good at math” (journalism adage)

"Journalists become journalists because they aren’t good at math” is an old journalism adage. The adage is often brought up when a newspaper story involves math, such as charts and graphs.

“One typical comment from such a student is: ‘I never was any good at math; that’s why I decided to go into journalism’” was cited in print in 1981. The adage is probably much older and does not appear to have any specific author.


Google Books
The Urban Press in Transition:
The Political Economy of Newswork, Volume 2

Peter Dreier
University of Chicago (Ph.D. thesis)
1977
Pg. 459:
“I was no good at math and I liked to write,” a reporter said, adding that he had a “natural curiosity” and that he enjoyed “the entry it affords you meeting people, seeing events close up.”

Google Books
Research Methods in Mass Communication
BY Guido H. Stempel and Bruce H. Westley
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall
1981
Pg. 48:
Many students interested in journalism and mass communications express a dislike or fear, or both, of anything quantitative. One typical comment from such a student is: “I never was any good at math; that’s why I decided to go into journalism.”

Google Books
Fundamentals of Journalism:
Reporting, Writing and Editing

By R. Thomas Berner
Spokane, WA: Marquette Books
2007
Pg. 162:
Journalists like to joke that they went into journalism because they were no good at math.

Twitter
The Baltimore Sun
‏@baltimoresun
@popcouturejjw4 However, we should have said 11,100th follower! Is there truth to the saying that journalists aren’t good at math?!
2:55 PM - 12 Jul 2010

Google Books
The Pirates’ Hill Murders:
Victorian Mansion

By John A. Miller Jr.
Pima Books
2011
Pg. 191:
“I thought journalists weren’t good at math.”

Twitter
Sean Barie
‏@SeanBarie_TV2
@rkilroy 2011 actually...but it’s ok Journalist aren’t supposed to be good at math
7:04 PM - 22 Dec 2011

Google Books
Mazie Baby
By Julie Frayn
Published by the author
2014
Pg. ?:
“Maybe she’ll be a writer, or a journalist. Not everyone can be good at math.”

Twitter
Jackie Maren
‏@jackiemaren1
@ronaldopatrizio @byharryconnolly Everyone knows journalists aren’t good at math. It’s why they went into journalism…
3:51 PM - 7 Jun 2014

Delaware Online
Full moon makes this a lunatic Friday the 13th
ONLY IN DELAWARE
Jeffrey Gentry, The News Journal 7:28 p.m. EDT June 12, 2014
(...)
I’m not going to attempt to figure it out. There’s an old adage about why journalists become journalists. It’s because we aren’t any good at math. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMedia/Newspapers/Magazines/Internet • Friday, June 13, 2014 • Permalink