Math for dummies

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This is why I don’t have an accounting degree.

I burned out my brain for over an hour trying to figure out how “lump-sum reductions” and “rollback retention increases” add up to the $389 million proposed budget for the University of Arizona.

I’m working on a story about the state budget proposal recently sent by two top Arizona Republicans to House and Senate Appropriations Committee members. The proposal, which suggests a $44 million cut to the University of Arizona, came out just a day after Gov. Janet Napolitano’s budget proposal, which said the entire public education system would be exempt from cuts.

But of course I was working on all this on a Saturday.

On a Saturday afternoon in Arizona, you are likely to find people out to dinner, at a movie or walking around downtown — but not behind their desks. I tried contacting Sen. Robert Burns and Rep. Russell Pearce at their offices, but all I could reach were their answering machines.

The only people who could talk to me were U.A. spokesmen, and I will have to wait until Monday morning to get a response from Burns and Pearce.

Just before 9 p.m., I hit a wall. Actually, I ran full force into a wall, or at least it felt like it. After seeing that my story would sit in a folder until Monday, I gave video editing a try.

Bad, bad, bad idea.

If I can give anyone advice, it would be to never try to learn how to edit video when you’re already frustrated and tired after 12 hours in the newsroom.

So after the research and phone calls, I have only a draft to show for my story and no video editing skills. But at least now I know how to figure out a budget proposal spreadsheet — and that we need a calculator in the newsroom ASAP!

— Fernanda Echávarri

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One Response to “Math for dummies”

  1. Arelis Hernandez Says:

    Hang in there Fernanda! Don’t worry that is why I study journalism…you don’t want to see me with numbers. I just don’t understand why everything can’t be letters! haha! Don’t give up on video editing though, its daunting but once you get the hang of it, its quite amazing to see the final product. I learned how to edit video this summer during my internship but if you can learn the basics there at the NYT Institute, go for it! I can’t wait to read your story, I know about making calls and finding no one behind their desks. You’d think no one works anymore….haha. Anyways, good luck, stick to it, and don’t forget the caffeine.
    Arelis Hernandez
    2007 Miami Institute

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