Data Journalism: Census Data [VIDEO]

Jun 24, 2015

U.S. Census data can be a goldmine for journalists who want to add rich context to their reporting. But the tools provided by the Census Bureau require a reporter to know what they’re looking for. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a tool that made exploring Census data easy? 

Happily, there is! Census Reporter makes it easy to explore and utilize many different types of population data. It can also help provide context that indirectly informs your story. We shared a broad overview of the Census itself and how to use Census Reporter in this webinar. 

 Takeaways:

  • The American Community Survey is the go-to source for current, accurate population data about a place.

  • Census Reporter provides easy, fast tools to search for Census data about a place along with advanced tools for mapping, charting and comparing data at the state, county, and city levels.

  • Watch out for complicated geographies, like uninhabited areas, ZIP code areas (which are approximate) and definitions of urban and metropolitan areas that come from different government agencies. 

  • Race in the Census can be confusing for respondents. Remember that the the “Hispanic” category is measured separately from race. 

  • Know your stats: Mean is the average; it’s good to use when all of the values are equally important, like homicides. Median is the middle value; it’s good when you need to understand the true “center” of your data. While both stats are useful, Census Reporter’s distributions are more telling than a single number.