Ranking Madness

I must admit. Kelly and I were a little giddy one morning last week when reporting that Pittsburgh had been ranked by Places Rated Almanac as the nation’s most livable city. Hey, it’s something to celebrate – being the number one place for something so positive. I thought a little chest-pounding was in order. That was until I saw the latest polling.

The American Lung Association now says that Los Angeles has the most-polluted skies in the country. Number 2 on that list? You guessed it, Pittsburgh. Now, here comes my question. How is it possible that Pittsburgh is both the most livable city and the second-worst when it comes to air quality. Don’t the two kind of cancel each other out?

That contradiction brings me to this conclusion: There are way too many rankings and polls out there. Each week, our newsroom gets ranking for the city of Pittsburgh from being 13th on the most humane to pets to 50th when it comes to the life expectancy of its male citizens ( and yes, those are actual polls and actual rankings ). I’m not only surprised by the number of polls, I’m absolutely shocked that organizations actually spend money to rank cities on everything from parking spaces to number of pet stories done by the local media. I mean who pays for this stuff?

I’m not saying let’s get rid of these rankings, but I’m beginning to believe that they are less worthy for their news value and more important as a topic of water cooler conversation ( BTW, who stands by a water cooler and talks to people at work ). I think we shouldn’t compare ourselves to other cities, but rather judge ourselves by our own standards of who we are and where we want to be as a city. Still, I do get a kick out of being the most livable city in the USA. Makes me feel better about my decision to move here 12 years ago — and stay here.

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