Every journalist should have a short list of blogs, resources and writers from which to keep learning. I emphasize short list because the information environment is so crowded, with both great stuff and junk, that we could be reading 24/7 and barely graze the surface. But we don’t get paid to just read. So here are some of my go-to places and peeps (and most are also on Twitter):
On the economy:
U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the ur site for national data, from GDP to consumer spending, as well a good deal about state and metro performance.
The FRED site of the St. Louis Fed. Need an authoritative graphic? Here’s your safe harbor.
The Census Bureau. You can spend days on this (sometime maddening) site, but it offers gems such as this interactive look at business on a state and county level. The American Fact Finder and State and County Quick Facts can give you fast context when comparing cities, counties and states, or wanting to learn more about your own. Sign up to receive alerts and other info by email, including tutorials.
Dean Baker’s Center for Economic and Policy Research, weaving economics into public policy.
TradeStats Express, the Commerce Department’s site where you can find your state’s exports by year, country and industry sector. As with FRED, you’ll thank me when you’re busy and the editor says, “can we get a chart with this?” The Census Bureau also offers this data, sliced a little differently, by state. Want to drill down to the metro level? Go to the International Trade Administration’s metro export series.
The BEA offers a useful set of data on foreign direct investment in states.
Clyde Prestowitz. The former Reagan administration trade negotiator is the finest commentator writing on trade issues.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, of course. This rich site allows you to drill down to state, county and metro level on employment and unemployment, as well as historical and demographic-specific data. Pay attention to the widest (and arguably best) measure of joblessness: U-6.
Economic Policy Institute. Yes, this think tank is partly funded by the AFL-CIO, but its data are good and scholarship top notch. The State of Working America is a must-read, too.
The main Federal Reserve Board site is the most useful site of the regulators. Still, get on the email lists of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the FDIC. Especially helpful when regulators close a bank in town. The FDIC especially has some good data on local bank health.
Baseline Scenario. Simon Johnson and James Kwak write the best blog on major banking issues. Period.
The International Energy Agency, the most widely used resource for data and reports, especially on oil.
U.S. Energy Information Administration provides a wide array of coverage, including on such topics as coal and alternative energy.
The Oil Drum is the most intelligent site dealing with the reality of higher energy costs, harder to find oil and debunking the drill-baby-drill propaganda.
(Speaking of burning up fossil fuels, every journalist should be aware of the huge economic costs associated with climate change. I don’t have the perfect climate-change econ blog yet, but Climate Central and Real Climate are worth following).
The Tax Policy Center, an independent, objective outfit set up by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute
Great writers and bloggers (a quick list; I am leaving out many fine journalists, but ones below are especially noteworthy and write frequently):
Heidi N. Moore of the Guardian is one of the smartest journalists writing today and a ubiquitous presence on Twitter. Compare her column on Jamie Dimon surviving the attempt to take away his dual chairman/CEO roles with my (admittedly demanded with a faster turnaround) blog post on the same subject. You’re not hurting my feelings…
Mark Thoma, economics professor at the University of Oregon, writes the Economist’s View blog. It’s a great compendium of econ news and views, wide ranging, reliable. His tweets are also a must.
David M. Wessel of the Wall Street Journal remains at the top of his game covering the national economy.
Ezra Klein and Wonkblog at the Washington Post: Smart and chartable.
ProPublica. Even though this site covers much more than business, its investigative focus is a model of what all of us should be doing.