By Gwen Girsdansky
Census data can be difficult and cumbersome, and certainly not tailored toward the average journalist's needs. Census Reporter is a young project, funded by the Knight Foundation, that is supposed to make the data easier for journalists to use and to provide an extensive update to the IRE census project, census.ire.org. As Joe Germuska, the project lead, said, the government can't editorialize census data and explain what is important. But, after getting input from journalists, Census Reporter will be able to highlight and prioritize what reporters need — including putting the data into context.
There are a few things that the Census Reporter team aims to accomplish, including producing profile pages of municipalities, perhaps with a text summary of key takeaways. The developers and advisory board are also looking at using visuals, like maps, and allowing them to be embedded. Another aspect Germuska mentioned was a story gallery with census stories and how they used Census Reporter.
Germuska said they are looking for feedback on what reporters want to help use census data. A demo of the project can be found at Beta.censusreporter.org, along with a Tumblr blog with details on the project. You can find the project on Twitter at @censusreporter.
Gwen Girsdansky is a journalism student at the University of Missouri