Analyze to better understand why you do what you do

In Data Skills class, Professor Miguel Paz had us analyze for a week a piece of personal data. Jennifer Deseo gave me the marvelous idea of calculating how many hugs I give.

Some journalists (me included) cringe when they have to work/analyze numeric data. But numbers are important, more than important, numbers are basic. In fact, we are counting and analyzing all the time, more often than not, unconsciously.

That's what happens with the hugs I give. I never decided to count them, but in my head I was aware of my inclination to this activity. And Jennifer Deseo too, apparently, that's why she suggested this for my exercise.

Thanks to the exercise I discovered that numbers and analysis are paramount to get the full scope of a motive, of a story.

As Sarah Cohen says in her (great) book "Numbers in the Newsroom: Using Math and Statistics in News" numbers constitute opinions, summaries, and guesses. Get your numbers straight. They are your friends. Numbers show you did the work. You are taking responsibility and accountability for the information you are providing.

With numeric data you are proving you know what you are talking about

So. Here my findings. During the week of June 8th to June 15th 2017 I hugged 32 people, I gave an average of 2 hugs to each person, a total of 53 hugs. The person I hugged the most was Angelo Paura, with a total of 4 hugs. "Keep the number of digits in a paragraph below eight." Recommends Cohen. In this paragraph there are 8 digits (counting this one) I’m on the right path to become a Data Journalist.

As a lot of my colleagues, I'm more of a qualitative journalist. I decided to give reasons behind the hugs. This is giving a category to a hug. Here my categories: Spread/receive love, received help, hello, farewell, cooked for me, sexy/lust. 25 hugs fall into the first category, 3 in the second, 10 hello hugs, 11 farewell hugs, 2 hugs thanking the fact that someone cooked for me and two more because I find someone sexy and/or I had a will to have sex with that person.

Excel is a giant calculator. Excel is your best friend.

By counting the number of hugs I gave during a certain week I BECAME MUCH MORE AWARE of the number of hugs I give. Sometimes I would substitute a hug I was going to give for a handshake or a kiss. It was very dragging to have to write down e-v-e-r-y-t-i-m-e I hugged someone.

Moral: Think before you act, your analysis will always be easier, and there is nothing like a good old hug.