Peruse my back catalog a bit and you’ll see that much of my initial energy on the Rational Urbanism website was focused on media criticism. That culminated last year with the Death Race feature at which point, perhaps at a subconscious level, I felt that I had said most of what needed to be said. Nothing has actually changed of course, I’ve just already commented on it. For that reason I want to take just a snapshot of this week in my media world and make some brief comments. I will link to older pieces which elaborate the ideas more completely should anyone find themselves in need of more examples or a more thorough examination of the topic.
The Valley Advocate continues to love our dysfunction. Click on the “Springfield” tag and you’ll get these stories:
Just last week I debunked the “Food Desert” concept as it relates to Springfield. Bottom line, the whole idea relates only to people without a car and without a lot of cash, and the BEST place to be in the region if you are without an automobile and want to buy food is, absolutely and without any possible argument, Springfield: the hub of our regional transit system. The city has more food outlets than any other community and provides the means to get there. Most of the derisive focus in the SWAT article is aimed at other towns actually, but it’s informative to note that nothing else has been written about Springfield in the months since this article was published.
In their end of year Halos and Horns feature only the celebration of Springfield dysfunction gets any halos:
Notice that MGM is criticized despite supporting the same policy as the Valley Advocate. It wouldn’t be hard to see critics of casinos pointing to the loosening of restrictions on ex cons in the gaming industry as an example of why MGM needs to be watched carefully.
Richie Neal is the most interesting case. Here is a congressman, senior democrat on the House Ways and Means committee, from Springfield who consistently gets funding for things like Union Station for example, which not only help the poor and the elderly, but which also make serious inroads regarding climate change. Crickets. He doesn’t spend enough time talking to the White folks in the hinterlands of his district! Rural poverty sucks; the isolation stemming from the great distances one needs to travel to get food, health care, social services…all by car (bad for the environment) because mass transit isn’t cost effective with such diffuse population. It’s almost as though the poor, the sick, and the elderly ought to live in more urbanized places if they need services. Hmmm.
Then there’s this:
Yeah, WWLP and WesternMassNews, if you’re going to promote “sensationalist, racially charged stories”, make sure they focus on Springfield and Holyoke like responsible journalists!
Take in the headline. As you read the article, however, you see not only that greater Springfield has added jobs at a higher rate than Worcester and Boston, but that in terms of raw numbers Springfield is blowing Worcester away despite the latter’s proximity to Boston. I also enjoy the fact that the economist quoted in the article specifically mentions that Springfield’s regional strength comes from giants like Mass Mutual (Headquartered in Springfield) and Baystate Medical Center (headquartered in Springfield) and that the future looks bright for employment based on the opening of MGM (in Springfield) yet somehow the article’s main spin is that the city is the weak spot of the region; which it is ONLY if you ignore WHERE the jobs are.
I understand that we count employment and unemployment numbers by where people live and not where they work; perhaps because, while the unemployed do not work ANYWHERE they have to live somewhere…and where are unemployed people going to live? Telling us a greater percentage of the unemployed in the region live in Springfield is, essentially, telling us that poor people tend to live where the poor people live.
A more interesting data set would be to tell us how many jobs each community provides in relation to the people in the workforce from each community. Springfield, I think, would comfortably lead the way in the surplus of jobs it provides to the region.
The most upbeat treatment Springfield has received of late came courtesy on the Boston Globe as this article describes how seamlessly the Springfield Public Schools have added over 500 new students from Puerto Rico in the last 3 months. The insight that the schools here have been able to accommodate twice the number of any other district in the state with less obvious impact is that the Puerto Rican community is so broadly integrated into every neighborhood that every single one of Springfield’s schools have seen students arrive from Puerto Rico in the aftermath of hurricane María, but none has received more than 2 dozen. Also mentioned was the city’s overall affordability.
Someone gets us.