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No ‘Burgh bias here, right?

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Joe Wos

Last week, Niche.com ranked Pittsburgh as the top St. Patrick’s Day celebration in America, turning other cities green with envy, although they might just have been green because it was St. Patrick’s Day.

But those other cities suspected a wee bit of blarney as Niche is based in Pittsburgh. Of course, no one is implying that has anything to do with Pittsburgh earning the top spot (insert sarcasm here).

Among the scientific data used by Niche: how old a city’s St. Patty’s parade was (Pittsburgh ranks 18th), Irish population (Pittsburgh ranks fifth) and lastly — and where Pittsburgh’s numbers soared — how much buzz there was on Facebook.

Niche disqualified the nation’s largest St. Patty’s celebration, New York City’s, because of its low numbers on Facebook. Meaning, if you are an Irish-born leprechaun living in a vat filled with Guinness under New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral and you didn’t click “like,” you aren’t Irish enough for Niche.

This dubious methodology put Pittsburgh above Chicago, Scranton (yes, Scranton), Philadelphia and everyone else — despite Pittsburgh not making the Top 10 on just about every major St. Patrick’s Day best-of lists. Not from The International Business Times, National Geographic, Wikipedia, US News, Top Events USA and a whole Top 10 list of Top 10 lists.

Mayor Bill Peduto, VisitPittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership immediately began to gloat, quote and promote, omitting that little tidbit about Niche being a Pittsburgh company.

Pittsburgh loves its lists. It wears its “Most Livable” ranking proudly around its neck like it’s the Flavor Flav of cities. We are proud, maybe a little too proud (ranking sixth in the nation in the deadly sin of pride and fourth as Most Sinful City, according to Movoto. Way to go, heathens!). Sometimes that civic pride influences what should be unbiased articles, rankings, opinions and, yes, lists.

Movoto is full of praise-filled Pittsburgh lists that seem to think, among other things, that we are the only city in the world with a brewery in a church, film locations, sandwiches, deer and trees. Pittsburgh likes to pat itself on the back every time it reads accolades and lists written by Pittsburghers for Pittsburghers.

The concept of full disclosure and bias seems to be a foreign concept to Yinzers:

• High Brow Magazine calls Pittsburgh a “foodies playground” in an article written by a Pittsburgher.

• Movie Maker Magazine recently picked Pittsburgh as one of the Top 5 small cities to be a filmmaker in. The article was written by Pittsburgher Ted Elrick.

• VisitPittsburgh has listed in its list of lists that “many are calling ‘Pittsburgh the next hipster mecca!’” and by many it means one Washington Post writer from Pittsburgh.

• Conde Nast picked Pittsburgh as No. 3 on its Top 15 Places to Go in 2015. So, just how Pittsburgh is the author’s Brent Burket? He has a picture of himself with Mr. McFeely and a VisitPittsburgh banner behind him as his Facebook profile pic.

Pittsburghers need to quit being the nerdy kid in high school who kept trying to give himself a cool nickname by writing it in Sharpie on his Wrangler jean jacket. We shouldn’t need to keep reassuring ourselves or others of how great Pittsburgh is.

We are becoming known as one of the most arrogant and obnoxious cities in the nation (congratulations, another top ranking!). Is it any wonder the satirical magazine The Onion ran this headline in 2013?: “Pittsburgh Magazine releases annual ‘Reason to Love Pittsburgh’ list.”

I love this city. Pittsburgh is a vibrant, hip, exciting, wonderful place to live. But, every now and then, I wish it was a bit more listless.

Joe Wos, a cartoonist, writer and pop culture correspondent for WESA Essential Pittsburgh, lives in Penn Hills.

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