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Once again, The Indy Channel has announced the names of its annual A-list winners and, once again, it's nonsense.
The A-list, for those who have only seen the boasts by past winners, presents as a popularity contest. But like most such media-driven competitions, its winners are determined in large part by how much the organizations push their friends, family and supporters to vote for them.
As such, it reflects the agenda of those who are lobbying for votes.
Through that lobbying, all the groups are helping to advertise The Indy Channel. It's a smart move by the marketing folks at the station, of course–get groups hungry for attention to spread the word for you. And I totally understand "winners" taking advantage of the notice in their advertising and PR.
But come on.
Do you really think anyone who voted for Best Personal Trainers has tried more than one (if any)? How many different carpet cleaners has any of the voters used? And don't get me started about pet photography.
As to the Arts & Entertainment category, sorry, but unless you don't want your kid to grow into a rational human being, Irvington Ghost Tours isn't the best place for Family Fun. And while a case can be made for Conner Prarie as the best museum, with so little production and presenting going on, it's difficult to rationalize Madame Walker Theatre Center as Best Theater. And I applaud Actors Theatre of Indiana for getting out the vote, but that doesn't make it the Best Theatre Company in the region.
Sure, we all have opinions. And I did my time editing “reader’s choice” lists for Philadelphia Magazine and Indianapolis Monthly’s “Best of” issues back in the day. I just wish lists such The Indy Channel’ s actually reflected opinions or actual surveys rather than marketing strategies. I'd rather hear what a specific arts journalist at the station thought of a show or company rather than the results of a contest hiding beyond a pretend "popular vote."
But in a world where PR people posing as "citizen journalists" can post on news websites without being challenged, I shouldn't be surprised.