OLD Media Moves

Tracking gasoline prices for readers

August 11, 2008

Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute had some great advice from Cincinnati Enquirer assistant business editor Mark Wert on getting the most out of gasoline price stories.

Cincinnati EnquirerWert told Tompkins: “During that time, we have kept a database of the daily average price in Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky, so we have great historic data from the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS). It’s very helpful in analyzing trends, doing year-to-date comparisons and then computing how much, more or less, typical drivers have spent.

“But a few years ago, reporter James Pilcher took a class in mapping software and we hit on the idea of mapping the actual individual prices from stations as a way to look at patterns. This year, Pilcher teamed up with reporter Greg Korte to look at two months’ worth of data that OPIS provided from more than 700 local stations.

“Their report harnesses that data to confirm that a lot of what people know about gasoline prices is true. The data were used to come up with six secrets that we printed daily -– you pay more near an interstate and way out in the sticks and you’ll pay less at big-box retailers that offer low prices for customers with loyalty cards or memberships, are two examples -– followed by the Sunday explainer on how all this works (specifically, how Cincinnati and a few other cities have extraordinarily sharp competition for gasoline sales and that benefits consumers).”

Read more here.

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