Opinion: Community’s ‘Vital Signs’ Deserve Attention

By Josh Mitchell/Corinth Today News Editor

Data helps tell a community’s story.

Data shows us things we did not know about our city and county.

Data points out where a town is excelling or struggling.

Data is there to be discovered.

Research is an important part of a journalist’s job, and with the convenience of the Internet there is a rich amount of information right at our fingertips.

Other than covering community events, sports activities, town board meetings and other newsworthy happenings, I think it is also important for local reporters to review government data.

Josh Mitchell

I often go to well-known, credible sources such as the Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to get important information about Corinth and Alcorn County.

Data can be like a community’s vital signs. If humans don’t go to the doctor to get their blood pressure checked and have other tests done, there could be problems going on under the surface that we are unaware of. Medical tests can also reveal parts of our physiology that are performing well.

The same can be said about government data when it comes to testing the health of a city or county.

That is why there is so much interest when school test scores from the state are released.

It is also why cities pay close attention to sales tax revenue reports each month.

It is why millions of Americans look at the Dow Jones Industrial Average each day.

It is why sports fans across the world analyze statistics of their favorite teams.

These facts and figures allow us to be more informed citizens and show us where we can improve.

Businesses, schools and governments rely on data to see if their action plans are working. Without data, organizations would have no way to measure their performance.

I have lived in Mississippi most of my life and can tell you many great things about numerous parts of the Magnolia State, including Corinth.

But my personal experiences and what I hear from other people can only take me so far in terms of gaining a deeper understanding of Corinth, Alcorn County and Mississippi as a whole.

At Corinth Today, we want to go beyond surface-level reporting and dig into the facts and statistics that help define a community’s past and future.

Corinth Today has reported statistics on issues such as single-parent homes, teen pregnancy rates and the number of people in poverty.

Sometimes data and how or when it is presented can upset people. Such was the case this week when I wrote a column that reported data on the number of home loans that were obtained by whites and blacks in Alcorn County. Many people felt that sharing such data was not a good idea, and I can understand their point.

But I still feel that such data is vitally important and was not compiled to just “sit on a shelf” and not be seen.

For instance, 2015 Census data estimate that about 44 percent of African American households were owner-occupied homes versus 72 percent of whites. That means it was estimated that more than half of African Americans in Alcorn County were in rental homes.

Pointing out this information is not meant to stir controversy but simply ask a question: Why do a lower percentage of African American households in Alcorn County own a home compared to whites?

Likewise, why do other Census estimates show that 30 percent of white and black children in Alcorn were below poverty?

Similarly, why were 71 percent of African American children in Mississippi in single-parent homes compared to 29 percent of white children?

These are critically important questions that any community must ask itself if it wants to continue to grow and succeed. Yes, these are tough questions, but a community can work together as one to tackle these issues for the benefit of all. Fortunately, Corinth is a community that demonstrates harmony in many ways.


4 Responses so far.

  1. Sue says:

    I appreciate your unbiased reporting of relevant facts!

  2. Katie says:

    When I read the article earlier this week I knew it would ruffle some feathers. People need to hear the facts, good and bad. Thank you for doing that.

  3. Scott M. says:

    I appreciate the work you do Josh. Shining a light on the data that exists for MS and Alcorn County is a public service. How people interpret the data is up to them. Ignorance is not bliss.

  4. Jay Knighton says:

    Interesting, but falls a bit short of investigative journalism. Reading from Texas, I’m left with more questions. How many black and white residents applied for a loan to purchase? How many realtors represented black and white families and failed to close on a home under contract? How many black families listed homes for sale?

    Why not provide complete coverage? Reading what you provided IS potentially misleading and interpretive of pot-stirring. After all, if a few number of minority families bought, but every one that tried to buy did buy, then perhaps an article asking/investigating why so few minorities actually purchase homes would be more appropriate? And if, on the other hand, you discover that 5 bought and several tried but couldn’t obtain financing, then investigate why.

    I’d enjoy that article.


About Josh Mitchell

Josh Mitchell is the news editor for Corinth Today. He can be reached at 662-872-9907 or news@corinthtoday.com.