After declaring Grand Rapids, Michigan a “dying city,” Newsweek is now backing off the characterization after GR’s flashmob empresario Rob Bliss organized the world’s largest lipdub video in response to the charge.
Perhaps written up best by Gawker (“Dying Michigan City to Newsweek: Drop Dead”), the response boggled my mind:
“To the Grand Rapids crowd:
First off, we LOVE your YouTube LipDub. We’re big fans, and are inspired by your love of the city you call home.
But so you know what was up with the list you’re responding to, we want you to know it was done by a website called mainstreet.com—not by Newsweek (it was unfortunately picked up on the Newsweek web site as part of a content sharing deal)—and it uses a methodology that our current editorial team doesn’t endorse and wouldn’t have employed. It certainly doesn’t reflect our view of Grand Rapids.”
A couple of immediate concerns spring to mind:
- Newsweek recycles content under its masthead?
- Newsweek publishes analysis it doesn’t even stand behind?
Here’s my problem: A Facebook status update is hardly as prominent as an article on Newsweek’s website. Fairness demands that Newsweek publish a retraction of equal prominence.
As Grand Rapids (along with the entire state of Michigan) attempt to attract emerging industries to the state to diversify our economy (which suffered so greatly recently because decades of incompetent leadership allowed us to grow far too dependent on manufacturing) – publishing a characterization like this isn’t just an interesting diversion; it has real economic ramifications.
As I teach my Communication students: perception is extraordinarily powerful.
So my challenge to Newsweek still stands: let’s wait five years and see which institution better fits the adjective “dying.”
It’s on. Time to take yer beatin’ like a grown-up.