November 19, 2009

More data on a trend we already know about

One point sticks out in this reprot form the Census Bureau: "Those who were least likely to own a computer in 2005 were the elderly, those in poverty and those without a high school diploma."

This is an important point to understand as more government entities move to providing services online. So please tell me, how do these groups participate in the government?

Homes With Cell Phones Nearly Double in First Half of Decade

The number of households with cell phones increased from 36 percent to 71 percent between 1998 and 2005, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau. This corresponded with a decrease in households with telephone landlines, particularly households headed by young adults.

These figures are part of an in-depth look at the living standards of U.S. households using extended measures of well-being. The data were collected in 2005 as part of the ongoing Survey of Income and Program Participation. The survey is unique because it allows the user to track select quality of life measures over time using a variety of demographic characteristics.

"While income is generally regarded as the best single measure of one's living standard, it doesn't give us the whole picture," said Tiffany Julian, an analyst in the Census Bureau's Housing and Household Economic Statistics Division. "This survey is unique in that it includes additional measures of well-being that give us a broader look at household living conditions."

Householders who were 29 or younger went from 35 percent with cell phones in 1998 to 81 percent in 2005. Over the same period, this same group saw a decrease in ownership of landline phones from 93 percent to 71 percent.

Landline phone ownership fell from 96 percent to 91 percent overall from 1998 to 2005. In 2005, 98 percent of householders who were 65 and over had a landline telephone.

The number of households with a personal computer increased from 42 percent to 67 percent between 1998 and 2005. Those who were least likely to own a computer in 2005 were the elderly, those in poverty and those without a high school diploma.

Among the indicators in this survey that measure quality of life are possession of appliances and electronic goods, housing conditions, neighborhood conditions, public services and the ability to meet basic needs, such as paying bills, avoiding foreclosure and having sufficient food.

Some of the household characteristics in this survey include race, Hispanic origin, age, income, poverty status and type (e.g., family, nonfamily, married, nonmarried, etc.).

To determine who is in poverty, the Census Bureau uses a set of income thresholds that vary by family size and composition.

Other statistics:
  • In 2005, 92 percent of householders felt their neighborhoods were safe; 96 percent were satisfied with public services such as fire and police protection.
  • Eighty-six percent of households reported being able to keep up-to-date on overall essential expenses.
  • Households that paid either rent or a mortgage were generally up to date on their payments -- 94 percent.
  • Ninety percent of households responded that they were able to pay their utility bills.
  • Households in poverty were more likely to have trouble paying bills; 35 percent had unmet bills.
  • Among all households, 96 percent reported having a microwave oven.
  • Ninety-five percent of households said they had no roof or ceiling leaks; 97 percent reported no broken windows.

November 18, 2009

Threatened in Iran, coverage continues from Toronto

Students might be interested to know what they are getting into if they go into overseas reporting.

Thanks to Jim Romenesko at the Poynter Institute for a great story about the professional and personal anguish reporters trying to cover Iran have had to go through.

Canada is becoming a safe haven for the world's exiled journalists

Find a story in international data

Transparency International just came out with the 2009 Corruption Index.

Now where, might you ask is there a story for student journalists in that?

Let's start with just the international community at a college campus. What are the reactions of the students from Country X about the ranking their home country got? What is their own perception of corruption in their country AND in the USA? What do they think should be done about the problem of corruption? What do they think are the main effects of corruption on their countries?

From there, start talking to professors from other lands. Professors who are studying the most corrupt countries on the list. Get them to talk about the hows and whys of the problem.

Boom! A local campus story with an international angle.

Now step outside the campus and talk to the local immigrant communities. Ask them the same questions you asked the foreign students.

Boom! Another local story with an international angle.

Go to New corruption index out for more discussion on this issue and a batch of links.

November 1, 2009

Racism and progress

One big issue in the world is racism and how to fight it.

I was amazed at the racism in the Dominican Republic. And I have known for some time the feelings of racial superiority by the Chinese. I saw how Shanghainese treated African exchange students. (Very humiliating.)

For Americans who have not had the overseas experience, this story (China's black pop idol exposes her nation's racism) and others like it could provide a good measure about racism and discrimination in our own country. We could look at how and why changes have occurred in the States. (After all it never hurts to challenge opinions and conventional wisdom.)