So, the 14th annual "City Crime Rankings," published by CQ Press appeared last week. This year, Detroit, St. Louis and Flint, Michigan were the big winners, receiving headline news in some of the most influential media (such as USA Today, The New York Times and MSN) as those places most riddled with crime, drugs, murder and a host of other dangerous vices in the USA.
The only problem is that this data is deeply flawed and taken completely out of context... according to the FBI (who compiles this research every year). www.Spinsucks.com does a masterful job of bringing to light this travesty in a recent post. It seems that the publisher of this annual list, CQ Press, paid little attention to the fact that this data is little more than controversial interpretations of information versus hard facts and statistics.
A number of highly credible quotes provide us with the real story. According to a statement on the FBI web site, "These rough rankings provide no insight in the numerous variables that mold crime in a particular town, city, county, state or region. Consequently they lead to incomplete analysis and often create misleading perceptions..."
Michael Tonry, president of the American Society of Criminology said that the rankings "do groundless harm to many communities." I completely agree. The initial release of this yearly index obtained a groundswell of visibility and interest. Consumers everywhere want to know if their city or town has been added or removed from this dubious list. Others simply want to understand where to stay away from. Yet, very few will ever read or care about the newest revelation – that this annual ranking is bogus.
So, if you're the Mayor of Detroit, or someone in charge of economic development there, this glib and superficial survey has greatly damaged your city’s reputation and stymied lots of short and long term opportunities. Media such as CQ Press and others, who mindlessly decide to headline this information without proper due diligence, should be held accountable for their harmful actions. I'm thinking the only remedy is monetary combined with them being forced to seriously spread the gospel that they were wrong.
On the other hand, it would be interesting for someone to create a top 20 rankings of the most dangerous media outlets. Seems to me, it's pretty obvious from this blog who would lead the list.