Monday, October 30, 2006

Setting the record straight

The Census Bureau revised its earlier estimate that said the City of Cincinnati was shrinking. Read this morning's story, then go back and read how the Enquirer went overboard in reporting the original estimate ("Cincinnati shrinking, and fast" was the headline, as the Enquirer said the Census estimate portrayed the city as the fastest-shrinking city in America). The Enquirer's original story was an embarrassment. Census estimates are just that -- estimates. You cannot accept that they are exact down to each person and each tenth of a percentage point. (Don't miss an Enquirer front-page classic -- "Census has people talking", where they ask the man-in-the-street for his thoughts. Enquirer editors consider this to be real reporting.)

Today's story asks all the questions about how the estimates were constructed that the Enquirer should have asked when the estimates were first released in June. But the editors were so aroused by the potential of a we're-No.1 headline that they couldn't be skeptical enough to check out the numbers. Still, in setting the record straight today (and even including criticism of its coverage from a UC professor), they still couldn't help themselves: They say Census now says the city grew by 27 people -- a number that can't be believed since (as the story says) there's a 4% margin of error.


Post a Comment

<< Home