The Census, immigrant communities and curious journalists

Just saw the best example of how local issues have an international component.

Fairfax County (Virginia) sent out a tweet today encouraging everyone in the country to fill in and return the 2010 census forms along with a link to see the full message.

One line in the attached notice tells the underlining reason all local communities should encourage full participation in the census

It’s important that everyone fills out their census form because our community gets millions of dollars for schools, roads and other programs based on census data.

But that’s not what grabbed my attention.

Further down in the notice is a list of telephone numbers the Census Bureau operates for different languages.

  • English: 1-866-872-6868
  • Chinese: 1-866-935-2010
  • Korean: 1-866-955-2010
  • Spanish: 1-866-928-2010
  • Vietnamese: 1-866-945-2010

Now why would the LOCAL county government be so interested in these languages?

Yep, because these are the primary languages of Fairfax County.

And why are these languages so prevalent in the county?

Because people came from Korea, China, Vietnam and Latin America to live in Fairfax.

Any curious journalist would ask: “Why these countries?” or “How many people speak these languages in the county?” or “Why did the people come to Fairfax County from these countries?”

Those three questions obviously lead to a lot more questions and maybe even a handful of stories (features or otherwise) that could better explain the dynamics of the county.

And don’t think Fairfax County is unique.

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Filed under International News Coverage, Story Ideas

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