The decennial Census will be here before you know it — the time to prep is now!

Every working journalist in the U.S. needs to understand the 2020 Census. We’ll help you host a workshop on it.

This guide will help you arrange a training about the 2020 Census. And, OpenNews can offset some costs with a small grant!

Joe Amditis
Center for Cooperative Media
3 min readSep 18, 2019

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The U.S. Census is a monumental task that shapes the inner workings of our nation’s democracy, and the results of the upcoming Census will deeply affect communities for years to come. That’s why it is critical for media to play a role in getting accurate and timely information about the Census out to their audiences.

With that in mind, the Center for Cooperative Media has put together a guide to help you organize a 2020 Census workshop for local journalists. We’ve also discussed the guide with the U.S. Census Bureau, whose PIO office is ready and willing to speak at your workshop.

Click to see the full guide.

Why should I host a Census workshop?

For one, organizing a reporting workshop around the Census will not only help other journalists in your area better understand the Census, it’ll also drive knowledge about the Census at a time when factual information is more important than ever.

Since it only happens once every 10 years, there are likely reporters in your area that haven’t covered a Census before. There’s also a nearly-infinite number of stories related to the Census that could intersect with every single beat in your newsroom. In other words, learning about the Census isn’t just for the designated Census reporter — it’s useful to the entire newsroom and the community that newsroom serves.

Understanding the Census can also give people a better understanding of how much information the Census actually collects and tabulates — which is astounding. That information can, in turn, help you find and tell rich stories about your community. Meanwhile, the fact that this data is so vast and complex means it’s even more important for reporters to understand how to dig through, which takes time and training.

The guide we’ve created is based on a workshop we organized in August 2019 in Newark, New Jersey. Our goal is to help you do the same thing for your community.

The guide comes in two forms:

The guide includes contact information for the right people you’ll need to get in touch with at the U.S. Census Bureau, as well as contact info for OpenNews, which has graciously offered to make some small grants available to support Census workshops for journalists. (Ryan Pitts at OpenNews was the person who encouraged us to take our workshop and make it into a template, so be sure to thank him!)

Last, it’s important to note that we’re sharing this guide to help you, so if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Center!

You can send an email to info@centerforcooperativemedia.org and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Joe Amditis is the associate director of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University. Contact him at amditisj@montclair.edu or on Twitter at @jsamditis.

About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a grant-funded program of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. Its mission is to grow and strengthen local journalism, and in doing so serve New Jersey residents. The Center is supported with funding from Montclair State University, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, the New Jersey Local News Lab (a partnership of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, and Community Foundation of New Jersey), and the Abrams Foundation. For more information, visit CenterforCooperativeMedia.org.

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Joe Amditis
Center for Cooperative Media

Associate director of products + events, Center for Cooperative Media; host + producer, WTF Just Happened Today podcast.