Hurrah. I have to say, this geek prize is v chuffing. And I get an engraved crystal paperweight which I intend to lose, re-find aged 72, and then look back on this happy moment with a tear of reminiscence from 2046.
2007 Award for statistical excellence in journalism
Guardian writer Ben Goldacre is the first winner of the Royal Statistical Society’s award for statistical excellence in journalism.
His piece, “When the facts get in the way of the story”, published on 1 April 2006 won favour from a panel of judges comprising senior and experienced statisticians, politicians and journalists, who awarded him first prize.
The second prize has gone to Times writer Matthew Parris for his piece “The truth about those little red lights: a tale of power and poppycock”, published on 22 July 2006.
Third prize has gone to Economist writer Paul Wallace for his piece, “Transatlantic rivals”, published on 6 May 2006.
Panel chair, Professor Sheila Bird said:
“The view of the judges was that Ben Goldacre had made good points combating bad reporting and grabbing the attention of the reader. Not only did he dig deeper to get the facts behind the story, he also managed to explain a number of statistical techniques all in one succinct and newsworthy piece.
“Matthew Parris had written a witty and clear piece, the judges said. It tackled a real example of how misreported statistical data can readily become an accepted ‘fact’.
“The judges felt that Paul Wallace had tackled an important area of international comparison in a succinct and well crafted piece with good statistical themes.
A fourth place commendation was also made to Andrew Dilnot and Michael Blastland for their piece on mortality rates in Wales for Radio 4’s More or Less programme on 22 June 2006; and a fifth place commendation to Philip Thornton, then of the Independent, for his piece “Why the real rate of inflation is twice what the official figures tell us”, published on 13 June 2006.
Sheila Bird added:
“The Royal Statistical Society instituted these awards to encourage excellence in journalists’ use of statistics to question, analyse and investigate the issues that affect society at large. This use enables citizens to hold decision makers in all sectors to account through accessible communication of complex information, highlighting of success and exposure of important missing information.
“The Society was greatly encouraged by the strength of journalism shown by all of the entrants in reporting on statistical issues. We look forward to opening the awards for 2008.”
The final judging panel comprised:
* Professor Sheila Bird Principal Statistician at the Medical Research Council Biostatistics Unit and Vice-President of the Royal Statistical Society
* Professor Deborah Ashby Professor of Medical Statistics at Queen Mary, University of London
* Professor Paul Wiles Chief Scientific Advisor for the Home Office
* Dr Karen Dunnell National Statistician
* John Davidson press officer for the Medical Research Council and former journalist
* Richard Alldritt Chief Executive of the Statistics Commission
* Alex Salmond MP
* Charles Clarke MP
* Lord Tim Garden
In addition, Jamie Angus (BBC World Service), Julian Champkin (Editor, RSS Significance magazine), Professor Stephen Senn, Professor Gilbert Mackenzie and Professor Adrian Smith assisted with the first phase of judging.