Resources for Covering the Impact of the Economic Crisis on American Families

The economic crisis is more than a national business story; its effects trickle down to the families in the communities you cover. Get the resources you need to tell their stories.
This list is provided by Suburban Newspapers of America and the Associated Press Media Editors as part of a Specialized Reporting Institute, April 5-6, 2011, funded by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Find an Expert

Richard C. Longworth
Senior Fellow
Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Expertise: impact of globalization on the Midwest
Phone: (312) 821-7508

Michele Weldon
Assistant Professor
Medill School, Northwestern University
Expertise: women and family issues
Phone: (847) 491-2064

Thomas Koetting
Deputy Managing Editor
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Expertise: public affairs reporting, investigative projects
Phone: (414) 224-2318

Celeste Watkins-Hayes
Associate Professor of Sociology and African American Studies
Northwestern University
Expertise: urban poverty, economic stress and family health
Phone: (847) 467-7768

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What Others are Doing


"There is strength in numbers for the faithful," Brookfield Suburban Life, June 10, 2011

"Food insecurity grows in East Central Illinois,", June 14, 2011

Here are more examples of the kinds of stories your peers are doing on the economic impact the financial crisis is having on families.

Dan Shearer, editor of the Green Valley (Ariz.) News and Sahuarita (Ariz.) Sun -- and an SRI participant -- wrote this opinion piece.

Robert Wang of the Canton (Ohio) Repository wrote this story on the way changes in the Stark County, Ohio, workforce mirror national trends.

Pam Dempsey, a reporter with, uses interactive visualization that looks at local employment dynamics by age groups and includes a detailed "how-to" guide for those interested in providing an interactive tool to their readers. See her data visualization and tutorial here.

Sites, Blogs to Follow

Bruce Krasnow, assistant city editor at The Sante Fe New Mexican, suggests checking out the financial websites he looks at every day:

Recommended Reading

Michael Lewis, author of the book "The Big Short."

Andrew Ross Sorkin, The New York Times’ chief mergers and acquisitions reporter, financial columnist and author of the book "Too Big to Fail."

John Cassidy, staff writer for The New Yorker and author of the book "How Markets Fail."

Steven Greenhouse, labor and workforce correspondent for The New York Times and author of the book "The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker."

Key Resources

Chicago Council on Global Affairs

This independent, nonpartisan organization influences the discourse on global issues through contributions to opinion and policy formation, leadership dialogue and public learning. Council experts on the global economy are available for interviews. The council produces studies and publications on a variety of topics.

University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy Studies

This site features a searchable guide on economic topics including Aging, Hardship, Education, Environment, Health, Labor, Poverty and Inequality, Race and Wealth, Crime and much more.

SheSource is an online brain trust of female experts on diverse topics designed to help journalists. SheSource includes spokeswomen from a variety of backgrounds representing demographic and ethnic diversity. They have expertise on the economy and other topics.

White House Council on Women and Girls

This Obama-created council published a report titled “Women in America – Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being.” It describes how women are faring in terms of income, education, employment, health, crime and violence.

The Center for Children and Families

The center, based at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute, is an independent, nonpartisan policy and research center whose mission is to expand and improve health coverage for America's children and families.

National Partnership for Women & Families

The partnership’s goal is to make life better for women and families by creating a society that is free, fair and just in which no one faces discrimination; all workplaces are family friendly; and no family is without quality, affordable health care and real economic security. Policy experts are available for interviews.

Media Report to Women

This report provides information on all types of media and the ways in which they depict women and issues of interest to women. Published quarterly, each issue includes full-length research papers.

Women in Media & News

Women in Media & News, a media analysis, education and advocacy group, works to increase women's presence and power in the public debate. WIMN's POWER Sources Project provides journalists with a diverse network of female experts.

Women & The Economy

This Canadian site contains a wealth of information on economic issues women face daily. Topics include economic inequality, economics 101, globalization, economic contributions and economic alternatives.

United Nations Womenwatch

Womenwatch is the gateway to information and resources on the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women throughout the United Nations system. The portal contains a directory of resources, statistics and indicators.

U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey

This is an ongoing survey that helps determine how some $400 billion in federal and state funds is distributed each year. It includes data on age, sex, race, family and relationships, income and benefits, health insurance, education, veteran status, disabilities, where you work and how you get there, and where you live and how much you pay for some essentials.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

The BLS is the principal fact-finding agency of the federal government in the broad field of labor, economics and statistics. Topics include wages by area and occupation, unemployment, occupational outlook, occupations, consumer price index and the national unemployment rate.

IRS Statistics of Income Division

Among many interesting studies and data tables, you’ll find useful information on population migration by state or county, and adjusted gross income by county and zip code data.

Investigative Reporters and Editors

This site, devoted to improving the quality of investigative reporting, maintains a home mortgage disclosure act database. And, its "Extra!Extra!" segment samples big investigations, but also includes some quick-hitters.

This site provides a comprehensive list of resources for state and local government statistics.


This is a good place to check out the finances and salaries at nonprofits, including colleges, museums and charities.

Public Access to Court Electronic Records is the website of federal court records. It’s the first place to go to find out if an individual has filed for bankruptcy. Some say there is no document that contains more information about a person than a bankruptcy report.

Follow the Money

The National Institute on Money in State Politics plays a pivotal role in shaping public policy in individual states and across the nation. This is a good site for tracking down campaign contributions and expenditures. is a nonpartisan guide to money’s influence on U.S. elections and public policy. Whether you’re a voter, journalist, activist, student or interested citizen, use this site to shine light on your government. Count cash and make change.

Morningstar Document Research

Morningstar Document Research streamlines public company research by providing navigation tools for its global filings database. This subscription-based service features comprehensive SEC filings content and precise research tools.


Be There: The Inside Scoop from the SRI

Reporting Institute Wrapup

Suburban Newspapers of America representatives Nancy Lane and Mark Laskowski compiled a wrap-up of the symposium on covering the long-term effects of the current economic crisis on American families. Find it here.

Managing the Long-Term Project

Thomas Koetting of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel shows that -- with some planning -- long-term projects don't have to be a nightmare. Read his game plan here.

Adult Career Transition: The Time Has Come

This PowerPoint presentation by Nancy Wajler, Harper College, focuses on the role of community colleges in retraining workers. Download a PDF of the PowerPoint here.

Recession Intersection: Where News Discovery, Family, Gender and the Economy Meet

This PowerPoint presentation by Michele Weldon, Northwestern University, focuses on covering the recession’s impact on marriage, family structure and gender roles. Download a PDF of the PowerPoint here.