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Hopkinsville Leads Commonwealth in Population Growth

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The SurfKY News Group hits the Wall of Shame today with a big gold star. Hopkinsville Leads Commonwealth in Population Growth would be a classic example of reporting on population growth with the journalist’s brain in autopilot – if it had been written by a reporter. In this case what appears to be a news story is actually a republished news release from the City of Hopkinsville.

So we’re not going to shame SurfKY for incomplete reporting, but for NO reporting, and for letting this news release appear to be a news story, without a clear indication it’s a news release.

Perhaps in the process, we can encourage the author of the news release, Nikki Radford, a Hopkinsville employee, to question her own assumptions about the goodness of population growth.

Let’s go through the assumptions in this story, which go unchallenged and are not even examined. The author clearly assumed everyone considers a growing population a universally appreciated goal. Note the use of words like “pleased.” “enjoyed” and “progress.” The Mayor obviously buys into the same set of unexamined assumptions about growth (as many, many elected officials do):

“Hopkinsville Mayor Dan Kemp remarked, ‘I am extremely pleased to see our city’s continued growth with latest reports placing our population at just under 33,000.”

“Hopkinsville has enjoyed 4.40% overall growth since the census of (2010)….”

“Mayor Kemp attributes much of the progress to…”

Of course the worst offender in this news release is a quote from the Christian County Chamber of Commerce. We’ve come to expect this kind of boosterism from chambers of commerce, but we all need to be aware that it is boosterism, and that continued exposure to even low doses can lead to complete disconnection from reality:

“Chamber president Carter Hendricks said, ‘We are excited to see our community's growth leading the Commonwealth and helping to drive our economic recovery and expansion. For those of us lucky enough to have been here for a while, we are thankful that new residents are finding our community and region a great place to live. With outstanding infrastructure, affordable living, great schools, safe streets, and a caring community, we are poised for continued growth and economic prosperity."

Finally, one more dose of pro-growth Kool-Aid from the South West Kentucky Economic Development Council:

“EDC executive director and industry partner Mitch Robinson added, ‘The new 2012 Census Estimates showing the solid performance of Hopkinsville outpacing all of the state's major cities reflects on the positive growth that is occurring within the city and our region.”

I’m sure Robinson, Hendricks and Kemp all believe there is a pot of gold at the end of the growth rainbow, but I also suspect this release, and the quotes, were consciously designed to program the readers to stay behind the area’s growth mania. These boosters don’t want citizens to stir up any trouble as they notice the negative impacts of local population growth or worry about the sustainability of global population growth.

If symptoms of growth mania persist, discontinue use and consult Dr. Peter Venkman (or GrowthBusters).

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Guest Tuesday, 25 November 2014

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