I-News helps its partners make sense of the census

One of the most important things I-News does is help our media partners make sense of the census.

It’s safe to say journalists have a love-hate relationship with the U.S. Census Bureau. Love the information. Hate how complicated, convoluted and complex it can be just to access the data, let alone start to analyze it.

At I-News, we have three decades of census experience. Burt Hubbard, I-News’ editorial director, is one of the leading experts in the nation at analyzing census data. He’s so good, even the Census Bureau has featured him in their own newsletter.

So every time the U.S. Census Bureau releases another set of data – whether it’s from the decennial census or one of its annual surveys – we jump in and break it down.

We analyze the big picture for Colorado overall, then we break it down to local counties, cities, and sometimes even neighborhoods.

The latest effort comes today. I-News analyzed changes in how Colorado is aging and some of the effects of the economic crisis. And we’re thrilled so far with what our network partners have been able to do. News outlets across the state are telling their communities how they’ve changed and what that means for their future.

Here are just a few examples:

The Denver Post put two of its reporters on the story and told readers how the recession forced more extended families to live under one roof, and how the number of people living alone in Colorado – especially Denver – has jumped.

The Post’s Howard Pankratz reported on the effects of the recession, quoting Gordon Von Stroh, professor of management at the University of Denver: “I think these are very telling statistics about what is happening socially and economically. They have profound implications. The economy is playing havoc with things.”

Here’s what the Post’s Kevin Vaughan wrote: One is the loneliest number — but it’s popular in Colorado, where nearly 28 percent of households are occupied by a single person.

At the Colorado Springs Gazette, reporter Dave Philipps told readers how two local counties are at the opposite ends of the Colorado age spectrum. El Paso is among the youngest in the state; Teller among the oldest.

In Boulder, at the Daily Camera, reporter Erica Meltzer, told readers what the county’s aging population meant for the future. She quoted planning director Chris Meschuk: “From a planning perspective, our population is going to age, and a big chunk of the population is going to become reliant on our community infrastructure in a way that’s very different than what it looks like today.”

One final thought: Part of our mission at I-News is to help teach other journalists some of the specialized skills we use. Two weeks ago, we did a training session on analyzing census data for our partners at the Greeley Tribune. And just a dozen days later, they produced an excellent story about immigration and the future of Greeley. Reporter Chris Casey wrote: Greeley started with a vision of a homogenous, utopian community. Waves of immigrants redefined its reality and continue to shape its future.

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