April 14, 2010 | Chicago Defender | Original Article

Census 2010: The power of you 1 1 1…

When someone learns I work for The Nielsen Company, their first question is “how can I become a Nielsen TV family?” If I said “by participating in the 2010 census,” it wouldn't be a long stretch. The census' population data and the detailed demographic information it provides on the occupants of every household in the country serves as Nielsen's benchmark in ascertaining how many possible TV viewers there are. We use the information as the basis for our recruitment efforts.

So you know then that I know that the 2010 census form arrived at your house. You probably laid it unopened on your dresser or kitchen table. Or maybe it's still in your mailbox which you avoid because there are usually are only bills or catalogues in there, which both deplete your cash flow, so really, what's the urgency?  But the Census form is there, somewhere. Go get it. Fill it out. Send it back. And if you're like me - filled it out in10 short minutes then drove around with it for three days until I finally remembered to mail it - the message is the same: SEND IT BACK!

This is important stuff folks. The federal government determines how many congressional representatives each state gets and how the districts are divided by determining who and how many people are living in each and every household in our country, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa.  Even if you're a non-believer about most things, trust that in this instance this is an important way for you to be counted in a number of ways: including with Nielsen.

After I explain to people that Nielsen TV households are selected totally at random based on their mailing addresses and that every household has the same probability of being selected, the next question I'm usually asked is “yeah, but are we (as in communities of color) really represented in Nielsen's numbers?” Simply put, yes! Nielsen uses census data to help ensure that our selection of homes properly reflects the racial and ethnic diversity of the total U.S. population, as well as the 210 local TV markets.

 I'm very clear about the power of this simple math: 1 1 1 1… = approximately $300 billion.  That's how much federal stimulus money is distributed based on population density. That's a big enough number to make a real difference not just in your life, but the lives around you as well.

If you take away nothing else from my little “chats” with you, you should know by now that you count, and are powerful beyond your expectations.  The power of how these 300 billion stimulus dollars are distributed literally rests in the palm of your hands, or at least the crook of your writing fingers. So c'mon, complete your 2010 census form.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”