THE WORST: Methodological Mystery Poll Names Hoboken Worst in NJ for Families
Here in Hoboken, we love our online polls: “best downtown“, “best real estate“, “highest-earning cities“, “douchiest St. Patrick’s Day“—ok, maybe not that last one… but you get the picture.
“You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have…” the methodological hot mess of “facts” that is the online poll phenomenon.
The good people at New Jersey Family—”the Essential Source for NJ Moms” ran a piece on March 26, 2015 titled “New Jersey’s Best Town for Families.” Of the 512 municipalities profiled, Hoboken ranked… wait for it… 512th.
With all due respect to our fellow Garden Staters, we don’t think we’re THAT bad…
For fear of backlash, or even physical reprisals, we’re not going to call out specific municipalities throughout our state that might be a little bit… ahem… rougher than Hoboken. Nor is this sour grapes—we’re not saying we’re the best. But dead last???
According to New Jersey Family—”the Essential Source for NJ Moms”:
“What makes a town a great place to raise a family? The answer is different for each of us, but we’re betting your list includes a lot of the qualities on our checklist, like top-notch public schools, safe streets and lots to do as a family.
To come up with our ranking, we looked at the entire state—more than 500 towns in all—and measured each municipality against a host of important factors, including school district quality, crime rates, affordability, commute times, percentage of families who live there, access to hospitals and general lifestyle factors.”
Fair enough, but we’re still not convinced. So we went to the “Methodology” section:
“Of the 565 municipalities in the state of New Jersey, we first eliminated those with populations less than 1,500, due to unsubstantial data. For the remaining 512 municipalities, we collected data for tax rates (NJ Division of Taxation), average home sale prices (NJ Division of Taxation), crime rates (NJ Department of Law and Public Safety), public school district rankings (Great Schools), median household income (US Census), percentage of families with children under the age of 18 (US Census), mean travel time to work (US Census), number of restaurants (Yelp), number of hospitals within 10 miles (Health Grades) and number of grocery/convenience stores within 5 miles (Yelp). Based on the aggregated data for each of the 512 municipalities, we developed an algorithm to determine our ranking.”
With all due respect for our fellow media professionals, we disagree with your algorithm. In fact, so does The New York Times, which ran a piece in January titled “Hoboken, N.J.: Where Families Also Feel at Home.”
We at hMAG made several attempts to contact the Editorial Director at NJFamily.com to discuss the algorithm. As of publication, those calls have yet to be returned.
We firmly believe that it is an unintentional error, and welcome the opportunity to explain it further. See, we know Hoboken… other people don’t.
When you publish an item that essentially falsely disparages a municipality based on flawed methodology, there’s a good chance someone might pick up on it and take it to heart. Maybe it’s someone who googled “New Jersey Best Towns for families”—which is how we at hMAG were tipped off on this particular piece.
So media outlets—let’s try to do a better job on these things, shall we?
And readers, let this be a lesson to you. Try some due diligence, and most importantly, try not to take anything you read online too seriously.