As one of millions of Mid-westerners with unending affection for their hometowns, I feel for Flint residents, current and past, who are deeply offended by a headline calling their home the “Most Apocalyptic, Violent City in America.” But, as documented by the only info graphic in the story reproduced above, my beloved birthplace, St. Louis, ranks way ahead of Flint for loss of population and this tragic statistical distortion:
St. Louis Names Number One Most Deadly Place to Live in America
But leave it to my industry, real estate, to come up with this “sexy” eye-catching statistic:
St. Louis No. 1 “Most Sinful” City In America
Thankfully, clever, good-natured St. Louisans winked at that distinction and responded with their own list of “Best Places to Sin.”
From my perspective, it would be a sin of omission to miss the teachable moments that the Flint article offers readers and buzz-seeking websites that have lost their moral compass.
1. The first one to jump off the page is how quickly a city can go from “one of the highest per capita incomes in the world” to a poverty rate over 40%. Wouldn’t energy be better spent deconstructing that demise rather than dissing the author, Laura Dimon as “a child of privilege and wealth?”
2. Still, glad that DeadlineDetroit.com points to Dimon’s employer noting, “None of that means she can’t report sensitively and insightfully on Flint — if two-year-old Policy Mic gave writers the time and budget for field reporting.”
3. “…this article about Flint is about as substantive and reliable as JPMorgan Chase subprime mortgage credit derivatives.”
Clever as that insult turned pull quote on Facebook is, the incredibly incompetent photo editing at PolicyMic shouldn’t blur deeper questions about what happening worldwide worldwide because profits are more important than places or people — questions Pope Francis has put back into the political conversation, even among hipsters who read PolicyMic.
4. Finally, there’s a teachable moment that both St. Louis and Flint have to offer the cyberworld. When the “Tricks of Traffic” exaggerate half truths, readers can make things better or worse. Thankfully, “Flint fights back” appears to be a credible, civil social media response rather than a vicious counterpunch by the angry cybermobs that worry the Huffington Post.
This defense by a Flint company on a heated thread on Twitter makes me want to cheer!
Dimon’s openness to the invitation issued by MidwestLint to “use this opportunity and attention to turn a (-) into a (+)” is worthy of the standing ovations St. Louis fans give opposing teams, causing rival media to write:
“This is a different breed of people, and they have a lot to be happy about.”
In time, maybe that’s what Dimon and PolicyMic will write about Flint as well.