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Preparation, teamwork lead to deep coverage of US census numbers

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Orlando, Florida-based census specialist Mike Schneider and Denver-based political reporter Nick Riccardi relied on meticulous planning, their in-depth knowledge of the subject, and AP’s national footprint to lead comprehensive coverage of just-released 2020 U.S. Census numbers.

The first batch of numbers were deceptive in their simplicity — on the surface, a single population number from each state and bare-bones information on congressional seats and presidential electors. But with robust preparation and background on the headcount’s implications, the pair pushed AP’s coverage to the forefront nationally on an announcement that turned out to contain plenty of surprises.

Leveraging AP’s national footprint wiith big assists from AP colleagues, including Tom Verdin, who helped prepare state stories all over the country, Kathleen Hennessey, who orchestrated advance coverage of millennial migration, and Kathleen Ronayne on California’s loss of a seat for the first time in its frontier history, Schneider and Riccardi deftly adapted the AP’s spot story to the news that 13 states would either gain or lose congressional seats. The spot coverage included an informative glance box of winners and losers, an interactive map adjusted on the fly by Francois Duckett, and independent analysis by the AP data team.

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But Schneider and Riccardi weren’t done. The next day they teamed up with Acacia Coronado in Texas on a story about a likely Latino undercount in the Sunbelt, beating a major news outlet to that significant element of the census story by two days.

Taken as a whole, the weeklong tour de force showcased the AP’s range and depth, with Schneider and Riccardi leading the effort.

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