Covering the 2020 Census — South Florida

DEADLINE: Oct. 1, 2019
TEACHING DATE: Oct. 28-29, 2019
LOCATION: Miami Herald Office
COST: Free for selected applicants

(Haz clic aquí para leer en español)

Covering the census is the epitome of public service and accountability journalism, and the 2020 Census presents more opportunities than ever before for Miami-area newsrooms.

Starting now, people need to be informed about the census — how they can participate, what happens with their information and how that information affects their communities for the next decade. The data collected influences the amount of money spent on roads, where hospitals are built, how many new schools open and even who represents them in government. Election Data Services expects Florida to be one of the biggest winners in this regard, potentially gaining two congressional districts. Broward census advocates estimate that the county lost $210 million in federal funds over the decade because thousands of people were missed in the 2010 census.

But 2020 marks the first time the U.S. Census Bureau is trying to collect the majority of its data online. This raises questions about access as well as data security. And although the Trump administration has dropped its plan to include a question about citizenship in the 2020 Census, there are concerns that immigrants and their family members may try to avoid being counted. This could be a problem in Miami-Dade, where more than half of the residents were born in other countries, as well as in Broward and Palm Beach counties, where there are substantial immigrant communities.

This intensive two-day Poynter workshop, hosted at The Miami Herald, will arm reporters and editors working in Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach counties with the sources, background, context and data skills they need to accurately and vigorously cover how the U.S. government counts its residents. It’s also tuition-free for accepted applicants.


Estimated number of states that stand to gain or lose power in the U.S. House, according to analysis from Election Data Services

$800 billion

Federal tax dollars distributed based on census data


Lawsuits against the Trump administration relating to the 2020 Census


D’Vera Cohn, a senior writer and editor focusing on immigration and demographics at Pew Research Center, will lead this training. She covered the 1990 and 2000 censuses as a Washington Post reporter before joining Pew where she tracked the 2010 census. Guest instructors also will include key Census Bureau officials, a former Census Bureau director, a historian and representatives of the local nonprofit “get out the count” campaign.

Together, they will provide history and context for reporters in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties who’ll be localizing this massive and complex story.

D'Vera Cohn

D’Vera Cohn
Senior Writer/Editor
Pew Research Center

Margo Anderson
Distinguished Professor Emerita
UW Milwaukee

Michael Cook
Public Information Officer
U.S. Census Bureau

Michael Schneider
Associated Press

Marilyn Stephens
Assistant Regional Census Manager
U.S. Census Bureau

Kathleen Styles
Chief, Decennial Communications and Stakeholder Relations
U.S. Census Bureau

John Thompson
Former Director
U.S. Census Bureau

Program details

An accurate, credible census is critical, and the task is daunting.

Although the citizenship question will not be asked, it will be particularly challenging to get reliable counts of immigrants, young children, the tenuously housed, and racial and ethnic minorities. Undercounts will have far-reaching consequences, from the number of electoral votes each state receives to how federal funding is allocated for Medicaid, transportation, housing and other priorities.

Census numbers are also critical to enforcing civil rights laws. Researchers rely on census data to study health, poverty and other differences among groups. Businesses use it to decide where to establish new locations.

Reporters have already begun covering the 2020 Census — its funding, its methods and the lawsuits over the citizenship question. With concerns growing about the accuracy and politicization of the 2020 Census, this workshop will prepare South Florida journalists, many of whom are covering the census for the first time, to contribute meaningful reporting the moment they return to their newsrooms.

What you’ll learn

  • Why the census is important and how its numbers are used
  • A step-by-step guide to census preparations, operations and data release, with local, state and national story ideas at each stage
  • The key challenges and political battles, including the growing size of hard-to-count groups, concerns about cybersecurity and threats of disinformation
  • Key sources and resources for covering the 2020 Census
  • The challenges the bureau faces in persuading people to participate


Schedule subject to change.

Monday, Oct. 28

Workshop hours: 9 a.m. — 5 p.m. (tentative)
Dinner and reception hours: 5:45 — 7:45 p.m. (off-site)


Welcome and introductions

Census big picture: Why it’s important and what is asked

Census history

Census A-Z: From planning to publishing the data


Census partnerships/outreach/communications

Evaluating the census

Local challenges to getting a complete count

Wrap-up for the day

Networking reception and dinner *

Tuesday, Oct. 29

Workshop hours: 9 a.m. — 3 p.m. (tentative)


Tips for reporting potential disinformation threats against the 2020 census.

Story ideas for every newsroom and the big likely issues to write about

Lunch and brainstorm about stories and potential newsroom partnerships

Learn how to find census data now and how to use the census website

Taking it home


This two-day workshop will take place at The Miami Herald office, Doral, Fla.


This workshop is tuition-free, thanks to The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Miami Foundation. Accepted applicants will be responsible for the cost of transportation. However, there are limited hotel scholarships available for Palm Beach and Monroe County residents.

Who should apply

Journalists working in Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach counties who will be covering the 2020 Census. In particular, reporters and editors who cover politics, government, family/household, social change, demographics, immigration, race, population, business or transportation will benefit from this two-day workshop.

Journalists working in all mediums — broadcast, print, radio and digital — are welcome and encouraged to apply.

We strongly encourage Spanish-language journalists and journalists from ethnic media organizations to apply.

Application process

The process to apply is straightforward and simple. No letter of recommendation or reference is required. Please be prepared to answer questions about your professional experience, areas of interests and basic demographic information.

We will receive far more applications than we can accommodate in this program. Our goal is to be as diverse as possible, including job title, market size, ethnicity, etc. and to accept journalists who plan to cover the 2020 Census. Apply as soon as you know this learning would benefit your coverage.


We’d love to hear from you. Email us at

Thank you to our sponsors:

This workshop was made possible by The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Miami Foundation.