Math Tools for Journalists- Chapters 9-12

By Daniel Temple

This chapter talks about area measurements and the ways in which you calculate and express measurements.  It begins by talking about how there are two ways in to explain measurements, through analogies such as “The casino is the size of a football field,” (Wickham, p. 133) and through simple, accurate numbers.  The chapter talks about how analogies are useful because they allow for the reader to visualize the size of something.  However analogies fail when exact measurements are essential.  In these cases, according to Wickham, it’s better to use numbers.  The chapter then provides a number of helpful formulas to calculate measurements. 




Perimeter= (2 x length) + (2 x width)


Area of squares and rectangles


Area= width x length


Base of a triangle


Area= .5 base x height




Circumference= 2Π x radius


Area of a circle


Area= Π x radius²



            The chapter also gives some helpful comparison rates


144 square inches = 1 square foot

9 square feet = 1 square yard

30 square yards = 1 square rod

160 square rods = 1 acre

1 acre = 43,560 square feet

640 acres = 1 square mile


Skill Drills


  1. What is the perimeter of a football field 100 yards long with two end zones of 10 yards each and a width of 50 yards?  What is the area of that field?

A:  340 yards…6,000 yards

  1. Tilman Vookles, a sportswriter with the Alpha Anchor, decided to write a first person account of participating in the Chicago marathon.  The marathon covered 26.2 miles.  If it took Vookles 4 hours and 34 minutes to complete the race, what was his speed?

A: 5 mph

  1. Warren Korp, a consumer reporter for the Stillman Signal, decided to write a story about the growth of highway rental storage facilities.  At the Asmore Storage Facility the most popular rental was a storage unit that measured 6.5 feet by 10 feet by 8 feet.  How many cubic feet was the storage area? 

A: 520 feet

  1. Tia Cooper, the food writer fro the Kenton Key, spent a week translating metric recipes from her immigrant grandmothers cookbook into the American system.  A 2.25 kg bag of flour weighs what in the American system?

A: 4.95 lbs







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