Normally I start out the introduction to City Newspaper's annual Best of Rochester issue by blathering about the awesomeness of Rochester and making terrible puns based around that year's theme. I'm taking a different tactic this year — although there will probably still be puns.
It recently came to our attention that some people might not understand how City Newspaper runs Best of Rochester, and the myriad competing contests run by various media outlets aren't helping. Let's take, for instance, the case of a local establishment (I will decline to mention it by name). The business' management was apparently convinced that both the Final 4 and the winners in of our Readers Poll are dictated essentially by bribes. That people were paying to get on the ballot and to win. And they were telling anyone who would listen that was the case. (Hilariously, the business itself was a finalist in this year's Best Of competition. I guess we'll wait for that imaginary check to come in the pretend mail.)
So let's be clear: City Newspaper does not take any kind of money or other promotional consideration when it comes to the Best of Rochester. Nothing at all. The ballot changes every year, constructed from editorial picks and reader suggestions. Nobody sees the Primary Ballot until it goes online, at which point takers can write in whatever people, places, and things they think are the best in each of the 100-plus categories. We then throw an actual counting party in which a dozen or so staffers go through the literally thousands of responses and count up the Top 4 vote getters in each category. We only disqualify votes if they're for a national chain, don't actually fit the category, or are clearly the result of ballot stuffing. (Which is insanely easy to spot — we're not stupid, folks.)
The Final 4 are then put on the Final Ballot, the people vote, and whoever gets the most votes win. It's really that simple. Is it basically a glorified popularity contest? You bet it is. Do we agree with all of the results? Absolutely not. But the point of Best Of is to let the people of Rochester tell us what they think is the best of what's around. City tells you what we think 51 issues out of the year. This is the week where you tell US what's what.
We don't sell categories (no Best Awning Repair?!). We don't raffle off the wins to the highest bidders. City Newspaper is the original, and in fact the official (trademarked and everything), home of Best of Rochester. It is in many ways a silly contest, but we take it seriously, because we believe in the people, places, and businesses included in it, and we also don't take for granted the thousands of people who vote in it every year.
If you disagree with the results of the Readers Poll, feel free to let us know by commenting on the article at rochestercitynewspaper.com. Or you can yell at us on Twitter (@roccitynews) or Facebook (facebook.com/CityNewspaper). But seriously, folks, there are no shenanigans. This is what the people of Rochester voted for, plain and simple.
And with that, I'll say [insert lame gambling pun here], wish the aforementioned bitter-kitten business good luck in Best of Rochester 2014, and drop the mic.