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Why we stopped publishing Ohio’s case and death numbers immediately

Posted at 7:00 AM, Apr 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-25 07:08:28-04

We recently made a change to the way we report on the coronavirus statistics we receive from the state of Ohio. Every day at 2 p.m., the state publishes coronavirus data such as new cases, deaths and hospitalizations. Until recently, we shared those numbers immediately in our online reporting.

Then we stopped.

We realized those numbers lacked context.

So rather than publish and push those numbers out at 2, we turn them into a series of graphics and maps, and we let the data tell the story. Our report comes out an hour or two later than our competitors, but it’s more complete. One of the things we like to say in our newsroom is, “Better to be slow and right than fast and wrong/incomplete/confusing, etc.”

Thanks to our new approach we were able, early on, to sniff out the mass testing that was taking place within our prisons as the cause of a recent new case surge.

The graphics in our data stories, which were built by investigative executive producer Mark Ackerman, and which are updated by Mark and our web team, are available on our Coronavirus page, along with the latest state statistics and the global coronavirus tracker. With all those resources, that page has become one of the most popular on our site.

As always, we appreciate your feedback, some of which prompted this change. We read your social comments, and we look at every email. You can always reach us at newsdesk@wews.com.

Stay safe.

RELATED: Why we're not able to report how many people have recovered from COVID-19 in Ohio

Joe Donatelli is the digital director at News 5 Cleveland and host of the COVID-216 podcast. Follow him on Facebook @joedonatelli1 and Twitter @joedonatelli. Have a question about how we report the news? Email joe.donatelli@wews.com.