Portland has been attracting as much hype as it has hippies, earning high rankings on a range of “Best Places to…” lists involving bikes, babies, beer, and general pleasantness. In Willamette Week, Zach Dundas digs into some recent media coverage of his fair northwestern city, rating articles from the New York Times, Travel + Leisure, and other sources on their ability to get the “Portland thing” right. It’s a fun piece, and I’m on board with Dundas’ suggestion that the glut of media attention has more to do with “reverse provincialism” than with Portland’s sudden awesomeness. From the fast-paced perspectives of New York and Los Angeles, he writes, “Portland’s relative relaxation seems exotic.” (We see a bit of this in national coverage of Minneapolis, though it often carries a more condescending “Wow, who knew that arts, culture, and food had found their way to the frozen north?!” vibe.)
For the record, the Willamette Week staff’s ratings system–each article they discuss earns a score between 1 and 10, with penalties for transgressions like “Flagrant use of the word ‘grunge’ in a story about the Pacific Northwest”–doesn’t yield many high scores.