By ALEX FRUIN
Ec·o·nom·ics — noun: one of the only words in the English language that makes more journalism students shudder than the word “mathematics.”
At some point or another, almost every journalism student has been guilty of saying “But I’m in the School of Communication for a reason, why should I have to worry about (fill in the blank)?” I will admit that this is a statement I make more than once a semester about more than one complex subject matter. Yet, recently I have found an array of links that ultimately provide me with an “Economics for Dummies” guide in order to help me understand a few types of economic stories that are prevalent throughout many forms of American media.
Since economics is a very broad term, I cannot say that I have found websites that make every part of this vast topic easier to understand, but a lot that can be found on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website can be a good start. This United States federal government site provides information, calculators, and yes — even definitions of the seemingly complex, though basic terms of economics. Statistics on inflation rates can be found and calculated through this website, which provides examples and definitions on what exactly a CPI (consumer price index) or PPI (producer price index) mean for you and for the audience you are writing for. Another topic related to economics that is unfortunately a commonality in today’s market is the trend of unemployment. The BLS website provides statistics for national and statewide unemployment rates as well as research on the topic, including mass lay-off information.
Another important organization that every American should know more about is the Internal Revenue Service, which provides a detailed look into its procedures on its website. This is an especially important website for journalists because it can provide them with the information about proper tax procedures for individuals, businesses, government groups, and any other type of organization that may be in the news for fraud or incorrect filings of taxes. Many times, this is where reporters who are investigating potential fraud cases must begin, so it is important to understand the intricacies of the government bureau before the story breaks.
The final important economic organization that it is necessary for journalists to be familiar with is the Social Security Administration, which is constantly in the news, especially during election periods. On this site, journalists can become familiar with the government entities that make up so many news stories today, such as Medicare. The Social Security website is a great place to start research when doing any story related to the topic, as it is an administration that is not understood by a large portion of American citizens, especially of younger generations.
By looking into these websites for just a little while, journalists can greatly increase their knowledge on these topics that they read or hear about each day throughout the papers. Though many of the stories related to these bureaus and administrations rarely apply to younger generations, it is important to be knowledgeable about them since they are so prevalent in everyday news at every level of the U.S. government.