My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Response to Census Bureau Associate Director for Communications Steve Jost’s comments on this site…Fact-checking his fact-check

Yesterday, Steve Jost of the Census Bureau wrote the following comment on this site. I am sure you will appreciate my response which is below his remarks:

Factcheck.

1. You are mistaken when you write that the 2000 Census lacked a multimillion dollar ad campaign. The 2000 Census was the first to use paid advertising, with a total media buy of $110 million. Adjusted for inflation, that would be $160 million in 2010 dollars.

-Steve Jost, Associate Director for Communications, US Census Bureau

@Steve Jost – It’s quite fun to fact-check your inaccurate fact-checking. And quite frankly, if you truly believe the following, it scares me that you are the associate director of a statistical agency:

I have not had the time to fully check your “fact-check”, but taking a quick glance at your assertion that $110 million in 2000 was $160 million in 2010, I almost keeled over with laughter about the level of inaccuracy. $110 million in 2000 is equivalent to actually $139 million (and change) today. Don’t believe me?

If you want to fact-check me fact-checking your fact-check, I urge you to consult your buddies at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl) or perhaps some other folks with a better inflation calculator (http://www.usinflationcalculator.com/) who provided me with this most sound data. Let’s hope the 2010 Census statistics aren’t released to the media in such an inaccurate way.

Have a good day,

SRM

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13 Responses to “Response to Census Bureau Associate Director for Communications Steve Jost’s comments on this site…Fact-checking his fact-check”

  1. sg Says:

    Ummmm…. Why would you headline an article with “Fact-checking his fact-check”, when its most significant revelation is “I have not had the time to fully check your ‘fact-check’”?!?

    Further, I’m pretty sure that all Jost was saying is that the 2000 Census had a multi-million dollar advertising budget. Using the BLS link that **you** cited, his inflation-adjusted $160 million should actually be about $140 million. A discrepancy, sure, but hardly orders of magnitude off, and in any case, distinctly secondary to the point Jost was making.

    I think you need to take a freshman-level logic course, because you don’t seem to be aware of the most elementary requirements of a good argument. Now, I’m not at all interested in defending Jost. I mean, jeez, Census upper management **does** have a lot to answer for. But with “investigative journalists” like you on the case, they don’t need to break a sweat, because they know that you’re going to make yourself look like an idiot within a paragraph or two.

  2. JAG Says:

    You were proven wrong on 4 points and the best you have is that Jost overstated the $ amount on something you said never even occurred in the first place? According to my math, jost was off by $20 million. You SRM, were off by $140 million. My side still hurts from laughing….ROTFLMAO!

  3. jim Says:

    also, you didn’t use the appropriate inflation measure. CPI doesn’t really apply to advertising costs. try using PPI for advertising space. then, you’d find that 110 million spent on advertising in 2000 is equivalent to, um, 160 million in 2010.

  4. charlie Says:

    mytwocensus=EPIC FAIL

  5. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    No, I wasnt’t proven wrong on any points. I am unfortunately working on other things today and on the road, so I simply haven’t had time to check them…

  6. WT Says:

    Inflation in advertising is not at all the same as inflation in the Consumer Price Index (which is a fraud anyhow).

  7. sg Says:

    “No, I wasnt’t proven wrong on any points. I am unfortunately working on other things today and on the road, so I simply haven’t had time to check them…”

    Yet — once again — you led off by crowing, “Fact-checking his fact-check”. It wasn’t “Quasi-accurate comments that I’m posting because I’m busy and on the road”, was it? So… Why anybody should take anything you say at face value?

    I haven’t seen anybody scrap their own credibility so quickly and casually since Bush the Lesser got in front of a microphone.

  8. sg Says:

    Jim — interesting remark. I take it that “PPI” stands for the Producer Price Index? Does it usually vary from the CPI by significant amounts? I would think it would tend to lead the CPI — does it? Neither Wikipedia nor the BLS sheds much light on this.

  9. Steve Jost Says:

    I should have been clear in my original comment that our documents which we have routinely shared with Congress, the GAO the IG, and the press use “media inflation” in the budget charts. According to data compiled annually by the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the compounded inflation from base year 1999 to 2009 is a composite rate of 45.8% across network, cable, and spot TV, network and spot ratio, magazines and newspapers.

    We use 1999 as the base year, not 2000, because the advertising campaign for the 2000 Census was launched in calendar 1999, and much of the media buys were made in that year. For the 2010 Census, the media campaign launched later than was scheduled in 2000, in January of 2010. Also a much larger share of the media buy took place in 2010 than in 2000. For that reason the inflation calculation is an estimate, since 2010 is not over yet and it was not possible to forecast the media inflation for calendar 2010.

    To summarize, the 2000 ad buy adjusted for media inflation is $160.4 million over a population measured in the 2000 Census of 281.4 million people. The 2010 media buy, while still not final, is currently at $171.0 million, over a population estimated by the Census population estimates program of 309.2 million people. The inflation adjusted cost per person in 2000 therefore is 56.9 cents, and the 2010 cost is 55.3 cents per person. We spent slightly less in 2010 per person than in 2000 in comparable dollars to achieve the same participation rate.

  10. Steve Jost Says:

    2010 Census Advertising Named Multicultural and Best Branded Campaign of the Year
    http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/2010_census/014755.html

  11. lolwut Says:

    “I almost keeled over with laughter about the level of inaccuracy.”

  12. JAG Says:

    You weren’t proven wrong? You’re reading something different than everybody.

  13. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    @Steve and others – Thanks for the comments. Congrats on on the award!