Charlotte blues; Tampa strikes back

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How navel-gazing is America? Let me count the ways.

This past weekend, one of my journo friends on Facebook linked a Daily Kos comparison of Time magazine covers in the United States, Europe, Asia and the South Pacific. All of the covers except for the U.S. version were striking images from Egypt's recent "second" revolution — you know, the biggest story of the past few weeks. What was Time's cover in the U.S.? A story on why anxiety is good for us Americans. Forget global importance — we have ourselves to think about.

Which leads me to the latest issue of Men's Health magazine. Seems the geniuses over there last week decided to rate the happiness/sadness factor in cities across America. The happiest: Honolulu (it gets an A; woo-hoo!); the saddest: St. Petersburg, Fla. (it gets an F; that's when I reach for my revolver). And what about Charlotte? As with pretty much everything else, Charlotte is somewhere in the middle — kinda happy, kinda sad, fairly mediocre, doesn't really take a definitive position. (We get a D+ for effort and potential!).

Our sister paper down in Tampa Bay is not taking this lying down. Not only does Men's Health rank St. Pete the saddest city, but it ranks Tampa, right across the bay, the fourth saddest. Here's what our editorial colleagues down in Tampa Bay came up with — this hilarious alternate Men's Health cover:

  • Men's Hell (aka CL Tampa): Cover design, Todd Bates; Cover lines, David Warner

More seriously, here's what the CL staff found out about how Men's Health came up with its little survey:

The work emanated from the desk of a staff "researcher" in Emmaus, PA., whose Facebook and marginal LinkedIn profile are publicly available on the Web. Now, I'm not claiming she's a bad writer; it's just that her story reeks of SEO-gaming (an accomplishment touted on her online resume during her 2010 stint as an "Editorial Intern" for www.FertilityAuthority.com).

Hm... let me get this straight, Men's Hell, you thought it was a good idea to toss a researcher one year removed from her post-graduation (Wilkes University) internship at FertilityAuthority.com into a situation where she would be responsible for determining a sadness quotient that tarnished the images of cities around country?

This error in judgment does not belong to the new hire. It's not her fault. Fault lies with her editorial board, who gave this the thumbs up (and likely had something to do with the original design). I bet they knew it would be a hot-button issue, and decided that their ad revenue would trump in importance the cities' reputations. This is bad taste and even worse judgment.

You can read the entire story here.

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