If you aren’t familiar with the term “clickbait,” I recommend research the subject if you’re going to spend any time on social media.
In short, clickbait describes sensational headlines with the sole goal of getting you to click on the link. If you’ve ever clicked on one of those “you won’t believe what happens next” links only to wonder why you wasted your time or clicked on a shocking headline from an area TV station only to find out the news article isn’t anywhere near local, you have experienced clickbait.
For a second straight year, Yazoo City has been the focus of an article by an outfit known as “24/7 Wall Street” claiming that our city is among the 50 worst places to live in the United States. This year, perhaps because so many folks in our area shared the previous article as if it were the gospel and our state’s largest newspaper actually shared the story as if it had merit, Yazoo City was named the No. 1 worst place to live in the United States.
Yazoo has plenty of problems.
We regularly document those problems on these pages. I’m not going to pretend like there isn’t much room for improvement.
But if you think Yazoo City is the worst place to live in Mississippi, or even the Delta, much less the entire United States then you must not get out very much.
Nothing good would come out of pointing out the flaws of other communities to make ourselves feel better so let’s focus on some of the shortcomings of this fake news article.
The article describes the methodology used to determine that Yazoo was the worst place in the nation.
One was the distance in the urban population from a grocery store. Yazoo City has three grocery stores with one on each side of the city and one right in the middle. The idea that there is limited access to food is ridiculous. Additionally, we have the Manna House ministry which feeds people daily who might not otherwise be able to afford food.
Another factor was the distance from the center of the city to the nearest hospital. Our hospital is located right in the middle of the city. Our community is fortunate to have a hospital. There are many cities our size that do not.
An item in the “community” category was the number of movie theaters per 100,000 residents. This would seem to be an area where we would shine since we are one of the last small towns around to still have a movie theater and our population is barely over 10,000.
The article also claims that access to a library is a factor. Again, that’s an area where we should shine. We have a fantastic library that is located right in the heart of the city.
Other factors that were supposedly included were access to parks, number of restaurants compared to population and travel time to work. People who work in this city have some of the best commute times around. You can get anywhere you need to go in Yazoo in less than 10 minutes.
I suspect the author was mostly concerned with poverty rate, unemployment rates and population decline. Like all of the Mississippi Delta, these are real challenges for our community.
We can’t afford to make light of these things, but as one of the many Yazooans whose doing what he can to try to make our community the best it can be it makes my blood boil to read an article that hurts our image without taking an honest look. That makes it that much harder for us to try to attract the new business and industry that our community needs.
The article’s author, Samuel Stebbins, appears to be a young man whose entire writing experience is with the 24/7 Wall Street organization that seems to mostly produce these clickbait lists.
I would like to invite Mr. Stebbins to visit our community. I’ll even introduce him to some of the people who make Yazoo City a great place to live despite its challenges. There are plenty of good people doing what they can to revive this community. Maybe he’d share the real story of Yazoo City with the same enthusiasm.
Of course I don’t expect Mr. Stebbins to leave his desk and do any real reporting on the community he dubbed the worst place to live in America. That’s not what his organization does. They specialize in sensationalism, and they do it from a distance where they don’t have to face the people affected by their lazy reporting.
But if you’re one of the local folks I’ve seen sharing this news as if it were true, please consider using that energy to help fix the problems that actually exist in our hometown rather than helping someone who has never even been here cash in on creating new problems for us.