Written by: Director Robert Groves
Last Friday, I met with about 25 journalists in Ann Arbor, Michigan, who were participating in a workshop on the 2010 Census. The workshop was led by Professor Reynolds Farley and Lisa Neidert, and sponsored by the McCormick Foundation, with additional input coming from the USA Today’s Paul Overberg and Bill Frey of the University of Michigan and the Brookings Institution.
The journalists spent three days in Ann Arbor learning about 2010 Census design, data collection, and data dissemination issues. They also learned a bit of the history of the U.S. Census, from one of the world’s experts, Professor Farley.
I visited the class to give them an update on how we’re doing in preparation for the 2010 Census and what my thoughts as director were about issues of the day.
I can’t remember facing that many journalists at once! They were unusually well-prepared. They asked a lot of questions motivated by their own local observations – homelessness in Los Angeles, the constitutional basis for counting all residents in areas with many non-citizen residents, and how foreclosures will affect the enumeration of doubled-up households.
The contrast between their questions and those of others, who have missed such an orientation to the Census, reminded me that prior to each decennial census, the Census Bureau must inform the entire society about why the founding fathers mandated a decennial census, why it’s important for all to participate, and why the strong confidentiality laws exist to protect census data.