Journalist's Toolbox Newsletter XXXII

Aug. 17, 2021

Make Sense of the Census Data Dump

The U.S. Census Bureau has released a huge amount of demographic statistics from the 2020 census, and reporters everywhere are scrambling to make sense of the numbers.

The data show how the ethnic, racial and voting age of neighborhoods, cities, counties and states has changed since in the past decade, along with redistricting.

More than a year ago, Journalist’s Toolbox launched a page of census resources. One of the best tools we highlight is, an independent project that helps journalists write census stories. Big Local News also is providing an archive of clean census data.

Place profiles and comparison pages provide a friendly interface for navigating data, including visualizations for a more useful first look. The site is breaking down and cleaning those new datasets and making them available on its site.

The U.S. Census Bureau also has a page with tables of data you can download as it becomes available. Be warned: The data is cumbersome, so I head to Census Reporter first to see if I can find the cleaned datasets.

For visualizations, I recommend the county and state templates on Google Flourish and Datawrapper. Both are simple to use and work seamlessly with a clean spreadsheet.

Training video: Watch this video to discover other basic tools for visualizing the census. It’s part of a larger playlist of visualization and scraping tools that complement census reporting.

Around the Web …

Some useful science tools you can use for free …

Cool Tool Tuesday

Don’t forget that at 1 p.m. CT each Tuesday, we feature a new resource on #cooltooltuesday. Be sure to check it out and retweet it. Here’s a video of some of my past faves:

In Quotes …

“Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.”

--John Adams


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