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Introducing a new weekly column: “The Department of Data”

Andrew Van Dam, Business Columnist (the washington post/TWP)

The Washington Post today announced a new column called “The Department of Data,” the latest feature to launch as part of a significant investment in The Post’s data journalism. Each week, Business Columnist Andrew Van Dam will explore overlooked and underappreciated data sets to unearth fresh insights that will surprise and delight readers -- and maybe even challenge some long-held misconceptions.

Van Dam, whose writing has largely centered on analysis of economic trends, has also addressed more offbeat topics, like “which birds are the biggest jerks at the feeder?”

“Andrew has distinguished himself as a brilliant analyst of data and has long helped set the agenda for our economics coverage. With this column, he's going to spend more time on his passion for addressing quirkier questions,” said Business Editor Lori Montgomery. "The column will give Andrew the freedom to rummage around in a much broader range of topics, and to spend more time engaging with ideas that excite and intrigue our readers.

The first column focuses on Prince George’s County in Maryland, a D.C. suburb that has been identified for years as the richest majority-Black county in America. Using Census Bureau data, Van Dam breaks the news that a different fast-growing Maryland county now likely claims that distinction, and examines the social and economic forces driving the shift.

New columns will post every Friday morning beginning July 1. Sign up for the Department of Data here. Readers can submit ideas for data sets and column topics here.