Wednesday, July 13, 2005

America's Best Town (cont.)

If you thought I was simply being excitable the other day when I raged against the incompetance of the Money magazine editors who picked my home town, Moorestown, NJ, as America's best town, I now have further proof that these hacks have absolutely no idea what they're talking about.

The Philadelphia NBC station reports that Money magazine's 28th best town in America--Wexford, PA--doesn't exist.

Wexford, you see, is a postal designation, not a town. It has no mayor. No borders. No main street. The USPS simply uses "Wexford" has shorthand for an area comprising parts of four other towns.

Really, shouldn't someone at Money lose their job over this?


arrScott said...

You ever worked at a publication that did this kind of list? These ratings get made because the business side of the house decides it would be a great hook for selling ads. So a special issue is put on the calendar, and if it generates good sales then it becomes an annual event. We should pity, not condemn, the writers and editors who have to work on what everyone who works on them regards as crap assignments.

As for Wexford, well, Money clearly started by getting a list of U.S. cities and towns from either the Census Bureau or the Postal Service, both of whom use the same database, and both of whom would regard Wexford as an extant place. Do you really want to go on the record demanding a journalist be fired for trusting the word of the federal government about the existence of an American town?

Look at it from the point of view of an editor working on the story. You're already working on a crap article that you know to be meaningless fluff and a waste of your talent, a report that only very silly people will take seriously anyway. The Postal Service says there is a place called Wexford. Isn't it easy to see how you might not bother calling the Pennsylvania Department of State to fact-check the federal government's position on Wexford's existence?

Further, it's possible that the editor looked on a map and found Wexford. (Do an online and you find lots of churches and businesses that identify their location as Wexford, and any online map site will know exactly what you mean if you ask it to show you a map of Wexford.) So now you've got the word of the federal government and Rand McNally. Do you still doubt the existence of Wexford?

Besides, the Wexford dictrict seems to be made up not of four other towns, but rather other townships. Anyone who's lived in Pennsylvania knows that townships often contain districts that people think of as distinct towns. You would offend no one's sense of factual accuracy, for example, if you called Wayne, PA, a good town to live in, even though Wayne is really just a nice bit of Radnor Township with no mayor, city council, or school board of its own.

Anonymous said...

Whether Wexford actually exists or not is beside the point. That the Census Bureau or Postal Service say it exists is beside the point. Given what it actually is, what conceivable reason could there be for putting it on a list like this? That is where the writer's laziness really shows up.

BTW, when I heard this story on our local news, I thought they'd said Morristown, NJ. That would have been an even bigger stretch.