Sorting and sifting through U.S. Census data

Laura Frank

by Laura Frank, Executive Director

It was a good day at the I-News newsroom yesterday.

When we started I-News, we wanted to find a way to get more in-depth news to more Coloradans by boosting the power of newsrooms across the state.

And we wanted to focus on the kinds of stories that were hard to tell – those that required specific technical skills or significant investment of time or resources. In other words, stories that might not otherwise be told.

So yesterday at 6 a.m. mountain time, the Census Bureau released thousands of bits of data from its American Community Survey. Burt Hubbard and I began analyzing the data bright and early.

Before the day ended, I-News helped seven media outlets across Colorado tell the stories of how the worst economy since the Great Depression has changed how Coloradans work and live.

We worked with the Denver Post, Colorado Public Radio, KUNC Public Radio, Fort Collins Coloradoan, Greeley Tribune, Boulder Daily Camera, and Colorado Springs Gazette.

I-News helped show how Coloradans actually earn less than they did a decade ago. Citizens would not have known that if it hadn't been for I-News. We were able to take 2000 Census income data and adjust it for inflation ahead of time. Then we were ready to feed in the new data, make the comparisons and send the results out to our media partners early in the day, so they had time to do their own reporting.

Burt, Joe Mahoney and I were watching and listening as the outlets began airing and posting their stories. Each newsroom took a slightly different approach to the information to make it most relevant for their audiences.

It was exactly the way we'd hoped it would work: More news – deeper news – for more people.

Here are some examples of the stories:

From the Denver Post: The median Colorado household saw its income fall to $55,430 last year from an inflation-adjusted $60,785 in 1999, according to an analysis of the census data by I-News, a nonprofit investigative news cooperative based in Colorado.

Read the entire story here: Household income drops in Colorado over past 3 years, decade - The Denver Post.

From the Greeley Tribune: Poverty rates for children in Greeley doubled during the decade to the second-highest level in Colorado among the state's largest cities and counties, according to new Census figures released Tuesday.

The figures from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey of all places 65,000 and more in population found that child poverty in Greeley rose from 18.4 percent in 2000 to 36.2 percent last year. That was also more than double the state rate of 17.4 percent.
Read the entire story here: Weld County one of the worst poverty-stricken areas in state.

And stay tuned!

– Laura Frank

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