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This Just In: A look at local news online and on the tube

The problem with lists

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Call Me the BurgerLister, ListerBurger

Remember when there was only one list and Pittsburgh was at the top of it? Maybe not; because the last time Pittsburgh was rated No. 1 in the country as the most livable city by a bona fide list-maker was 1985, when it meant something. The Places Rated Almanac topped its list with Pittsburgh again in 2007, but it didn’t have the same gravitas.

This month, TripAdvisor, the company that sends me semi-regular updates on the best fares to Paris, named Pittsburgh a “top city on the rise for 2016.” I could write the trope in my sleep, and you can, too: “Steel and coal may have built this city, and you'll see the names ‘Mellon’ and ‘Carnegie’ on an awful lot of things, but Pittsburgh has come a long way from its gritty, industrial past.” The word “gritty” seems to be inextricably linked to Pittsburgh in the way that Kim Davis’ mint-blue smock top is to Mike Huckabee. Nonetheless, it was typical, circular promotion gleaned from other list-making online publications.

You know what a list means now? Nothing. Or, let me be optimistic: next to nothing. Think Pittsburgh is the next Brooklyn? Don’t kid yourself. “Cleveland is the next Brooklyn” gets 32,700,000 hits on Google. And, wait for it — “Detroit is the next Brooklyn” gets 30,500,000 hits. Or maybe you’d like to meet Hamilton, Ontario: “Canada’s answer to Brooklyn.”

Proclaims ellecanada.com, “And since there is no truer barometer of coolness than food, I hit up a few of the spots that are pioneering the Hamilton foodie landscape. Led by a few local experts, our group (a few writers, chefs and restaurateurs) ate its way across Hamilton with delicious results. (And, yes, we saw our fair share of hats, skinny jeans, quirky galleries and ironic tattoos.)” 

Marketers know that people can’t resist a list. The feeling of completion, the fulfillment of a primordial need, expeditiously — even if it’s not particularly good. So lists are just like sex. 

But hey, it’s the holiday season and let’s end on a positive note. Not all lists are inherently vapid and tractionless. Zagat, which has been around since 1979 A.D., named Pittsburgh the top food city of 2015. Oh, and there was also that thing in August when Money magazine said Pittsburgh was the best urban area to live in the Northeast.

“Great form and hang time. I give it a 9.5 out 10.” — commenter - KENTUCKY COUNTY P.D., FROM WPXI.COM
  • Kentucky County P.D., from wpxi.com
  • “Great form and hang time. I give it a 9.5 out 10.” — commenter

Santa’s Reindeer Got Run Over by the PoPo

WPXI — the same channel that declares Stephen Cropper, “Pittsburgh’s Chief Meteorologist” (take that, WTAE and KDKA!) — is notorious for bait-and-switch teasers written to dupe you into believing something happened locally when, in fact, it happened in Trinidad or, as in the case with this “story,” Kentucky. WPXI’s Facebook page reads, “DEER DANGER: An officer found out firsthand just how quickly a deer can collide with a car. Now the department is using the video to spread the word about how to react.”

Then you click the story only to find out it’s not a local news story. But you sensed that, right? And you don’t really care. Because what you really care about is the comment section, and bickering with other people you don’t know about things that don’t matter. WPXI knows this, too, and they’re banking on you lingering there to argue whether or not someone needs to lighten up about your joke. But, as always, the joke’s on you. 

Everything you really need to know is in the photo. 

R.I.P.

The McKeesport Daily News will close forever on Dec. 31, after 131 years in business. Jason Togyer wrote in Tube City Almanac, “It is terrible. Horrible. Awful. Combined with the closure of Monessen’s Valley Independent, it means 87 good people will lose their jobs through no fault of their own.” The list of newspapers downsizing and shutting down continues to grow. My New Year’s wish for those affected by the ever-changing world of media and journalism is that you all find a great Plan B, whatever that turns out to be for you.


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