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'50 worst cities' list is just clickbait

It's not fake news, exactly, but it's darn close. 24/7 Wall St., a "financial news and opinion company" that publishes online, is out with the "50 worst American cities to live in." Making the list at number 40: Medford, Oregon.

If that made you do a double take and utter "say, what?" you're not alone.

This is one of those dubious "best" and "worst" lists based on cherry-picked data that prove only that no one involved in producing the article ever visited the cities on the list. What's more, the writers looked at the 551 cities nationwide with a population of 65,000 or more. So Medford, at just under 80,000, is lumped in with Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Detroit, St. Louis and Baltimore, along with smaller garden spots such as Flint, Michigan; Youngstown, Ohio; and Camden, New Jersey.

The "livability" was determined by comparing attributes including crime rates, employment growth, access to restaurants and attractions, educational attainment and housing affordability.

Sure, housing isn't as affordable in Medford as we might like, but that's true in many, many places these days that are far less livable. Job growth could be better, but again, that's not unique to Medford.

Crime rates? We've been over that before. Some of Medford's crime numbers are driven by aggressive policing, which is a good thing. Some neighborhoods are less safe than others, and yes, the illegal drug problem drives up property crimes, but as long as you lock your house and don't leave valuables in plain sight in your car, this is not a place where residents are afraid to walk down the street. I'd say that's not likely the case in Stockton, California, or Detroit.

Access to restaurants and attractions? Hmm. If the intrepid reporters for 24/7 Wall St. looked only at Medford itself, they might have missed, let's see, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, the Britt Festivals in Jacksonville, the Country Crossings Music Festival in Central Point, and the fact that Medford soon will have not one but two performing arts theaters. Good restaurants abound.

Educational attainment? The story considered the percentage of the population with at least a bachelor's degree. Many cities on the list were at 20 percent and above — Medford was at 20.9 — and some were much higher, such as Miami Beach at 48.1 and Salt Lake City at 44.4. And then there was Paterson, New Jersey, at 9.1 percent. What's that prove? Not much, if you ask me.

Then there are the attributes this list didn't include: A delightful climate, mountain spring water from your household tap, spectacular scenery, unsurpassed outdoor recreation opportunities including world-class fishing, whitewater rafting, skiing, hiking, golf — and some of the best coastline in the world within less than a day's drive. Try to find any of that in Gary, Indiana (No. 29).

Every city has good points and bad points. Medford certainly isn't perfect. But one of the 50 worst places to live above 65,000 population?

Do us all a favor and don't click on this list if you happen upon it.

— Reach Editorial Page Editor Gary Nelson at gnelson@mailtribune.com.