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Government data offer unparalleled opportunities to distinguish your reporting with trend stories about what’s happening in your local economy.
Especially this year, with the release of the every-five-year Economic Census, journalists will have a unique opportunity to track changes in their local community from 2007 — before the recession — to 2012.
The key is to know where to look on often confusing government websites and then how to analyze the data you find. Just in time for the International Year of Statistics, this free workshop will provide you with a road map to finding and delivering at least five local enterprise stories from the data collected by each of these government agencies:
- Census Bureau, including the Economic Census and County Business Patterns data. For inspiration, take a look at this Reuters series on income inequality that made extensive use of Census data.
- Bureau of Economic Analysis, including gross domestic product and personal income by local area.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, including local unemployment trends and ways to figure which industries are highly represented in your area. The key fact in a New York Times Magazine piece about Tallapoosa County, Ala., called, “Who Wears the Pants in This Economy,” came from BLS data; it indicated women are proving more adaptable than men in coping with economic change, such as the downturn in manufacturing.
The Reynolds Center offered a workshop on the same topic on Feb. 27 in Louisville, Ky., and on April 4 in Washington. Here is a story that an attendee of the Louisville workshop produced immediately. And here is the self-guided training, including videos, PowerPoints and handouts from that workshop.
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
Attendees will leave knowing where to find and analyze the economic data to do at least 15 trend stories on their local economy: five from Census data, five from Bureau of Economic Analysis data, and five from Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Examples will focus on data from the San Antonio region, but the techniques can be applied to any other local area. Attendees will also leave with a calendar of important release dates for data from each of these agencies.
IS THIS WORKSHOP FOR YOU?
This workshop is for any journalist who wants to provide enterprising local economic coverage. A knowledge of Excel by you or someone in your newsroom will be needed to bring many of these stories to fruition.
WHAT TO BRING?
Bring your laptop. Portions of the program will involve your accessing government websites and looking up data.
Jeannine Aversa is chief of public affairs and outreach at the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Before joining BEA in 2011, Aversa was a journalist for nearly 30 years and reported for The Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Fairchild Publications and other news organizations. For more than a decade, Aversa’s coverage focused on economics, monetary policy, finance and politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri.
Thomas Dail is a public affairs specialist at the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. He brings a dozen years of experience in newspapers and public relations to that job. Prior to joining the BEA, he covered politics and business for Freedom Communications in North Carolina. Dail holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina and an MBA from the University of Maryland.
Paul Overberg has been a USA TODAY database editor since 1993. He is one of the foremost experts among journalists in analyzing demographic data, especially the U.S. Census. He has trained journalists through the Reynolds Center, Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Society of Professional Journalists in using census data. He describes his job as finding news in data.
Before working at USA TODAY, he was a science and environmental reporter and editor at Gannett News Service in Washington and held a variety of reporting and editing roles at The Courier-News in Bridgewater, N.J. He holds a B.A. in history from Rutgers University.
AGENDA: Breaking Local Stories with Economic Data
- 1:30-2 p.m. Registration
- 2-2:10 p.m. Introductions and welcome – Cassandra Nicholson of the Reynolds Center
- 2:10-3 p.m. Finding stories in Census Bureau data — Paul Overberg
- 3-3:50 p.m. Finding stories in Bureau of Economic Analysis data — Jeannine Aversa and Thomas Dail
- 3:50-4 p.m. Break
- 4-5 p.m. Finding stories in Bureau of Labor Statistics data – Overberg
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
Please do not register unless you are sincere about participating. Signing up and not participating deprives someone else of the opportunity.
Those who successfully complete three regional workshops or online seminars presented by the Reynolds Center are eligible to receive a “Circle of Achievement” certificate.
This free seminar is sponsored by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism. If you have any questions about the workshop or the center, please email Executive Director Linda Austin or call 602-496-9187.