If you think this is not the most exciting blog post title, then you will get part of the problem identified in a report on that very subject. The report does not pull its punches. For example:
"We were surprised that an organisation the size of the BBC, with a high (and increasing) volume of statistics in its outputs, does not itself have an explicit expert statistical capability. If guidelines were issued advising journalists to seek statistical advice, virtually noone we talked to could complete the sentence “For advice, contact ….””
There was until recently a Head of Statistics, but that job has been abolished.
However, having statistical expertise within house is only a partial answer to these kind of problems. As the report makes clear, journalists need to have some knowledge of their own, so that they can challenge politicians in real time. If an education minister says spending has gone up in real terms, a good journalist should immediately ask whether it has also increased per pupil. Lot of this is about the appropriate normalisation of statistics, which was the central message of my own submission to this inquiry.
That submission, and the report itself, is about the detail of how to improve the BBC’s use of statistics. Three more general points also occurred to me.
The first is about economics. Much that is written in this report about statistics could also be said about economics. The current view about economics reporting in much of the media is that this is a specialist (albeit generally topical) area that needs one or more specialist reporters, to be filed under the heading of ‘business reporting’. In reality a great deal, perhaps the majority, of political discussion depends crucially on economics. Mediamacro is not the product of the occasional confused economics editor, but the lack of economics understanding among political reporters.
The second is about balance. Many have rightly complained that an obsession with balance during the Brexit campaign allowed Leave lies to go unchallenged. But moving beyond balance requires the ability to access and judge expertise: to tell the lies from the truth. If that expertise is not there, balance is the cheap and only feasible option.
Which brings me to my third, and perhaps most contentious, point. This report makes many sensible suggestions. They generally involve more resources: training, in house expertise, better research. Yet journalism is under pressure like never before, largely as a result of the medium you are using to read this post. For most that will inevitably mean less time to check statistics, consult and research. The BBC is often said to be in a privileged position in this respect, but I would turn that point on its head. We may need somebody with deep pockets, rather than the competitive market place, to sustain quality journalism.
Good journalism may be what economists call a public good. The obvious body to produce public goods is the public sector. But good journalism is also about holding the public sector and the politicians that run it to account.  Implementing this report requires more resources, at the same time as the government is squeezing those resources because elements within it dislike the BBC. This illustrates a contradiction that goes well beyond the BBC’s use of statistics.
 Good journalism also often requires holding the private sector, and in particular large corporations, to account. If that journalism is financed through advertising, we have a similar problem.