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How to develop stories from 2020 census data


The US Census Bureau released detailed 2020 Census Population Statistics in August 2021, and more releases are yet to come. This decade-long data dump is huge, detailed, highly technical — and massively influential in communities across the United States. Journalists from all walks of life will use this data in their reporting for years to come. This self-directed course, part of Poynter’s 2020 census training serieswill help journalists access and analyze census data to cover their evolving communities, now and in the future.

In five lessons – taken at your own pace – we’ll show you how to find great stories in your community or state using the latest “recut datafile. It includes figures for overall population totals, race and Hispanic origin, and housing units. We’ll show you how to find data for states, counties, cities, and even local neighborhoods , and compare 2020 figures with 2010 figures, using tools developed for journalists and available via Big local news.

In addition to informing the distribution and redistricting, these figures guide at least $1.5 trillion per year in federal funding, guiding the enforcement of civil rights laws, and influencing decisions about where to build new schools, roads, or businesses. They are also used for research on health, the impact of climate change and other topics.

Upon completion of this two and a half hour online course, you will be able to begin reporting and storytelling immediately. You’ll also have access to presentation slides and resource lists to help you for years to come.


If you need help, email us at [email protected]

Who should register

This program is for journalists interested in using the latest census data for a wide range of stories across beats that include government, schools, neighborhoods and businesses. No prior data or census experience required.


This webinar is offered tuition-free and is part of Poynter’s Census Continuing Education Series.

This effort is led by Stanford University’s Big Local News, Northwestern University’s Census Reporter, and The Associated Press, and is made possible with support from the Google News Initiative, in cooperation with JSK Journalism Fellowships and a donor anonymous.