As a reporter your world is full of data. And those data are full of problems. This guide presents thorough descriptions and suggested solutions to many of the kinds of problems that you will encounter when working with data.

Most of these problems can be solved. Some of them can’t be solved and that means you should not use the data. Others can’t be solved, but with precautions you can continue using the data. In order to allow for these ambiguities, this guide is organized by who is best equipped to solve the problem: you, your source, an expert, etc. In the description of each problem you may also find suggestions for what to do if that person can’t help you.

You cannot possibly review every dataset you encounter for all of these problems. If you try to do that you will never get anything published. However, by familiarizing yourself with the kinds of issues you are likely to encounter you will have a better chance of identifying an issue before it causes you to make a mistake.

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