The Next Time You Want to Scream at a Newspaper Reporter, Consider This . . .

By
Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Gold DRE #00697006
newspaper reporters real estateSome real estate agents have a distorted view of the press. Agents get upset when they read headlines or news stories about declining real estate markets or recent foreclosures. They accuse the press of fabrication or sensationalism, which is so far from the truth that I hardly know where to start.

For full disclosure, I am, in part, a journalist, as well as a real estate broker. My husband is a journalist. My mother was a journalist. And I know a lot of journalists.

As with any occupation, there are a few reporters who taint the profession, just like any other profession. Those so-called journalists are fired immediately when they are caught reporting on events they did not attend or making up sources or plagiarizing other writer’s content.

Newspaper reporters report the news. They believe that the accuracy of information they present is paramount. They believe in the public’s right to know the truth. They believe in fairness in reporting. Professional integrity, honesty and truthfulness are the cornerstones of conscientious journalists. Journalists will go to jail rather than disclose a source. Journalists will walk off the job if they feel the paper’s profit center (advertising department) begins to interfere with the business of honestly reporting news.

If newspaper reporters were more concerned with making gobs of money or climbing over others for career advancement, they would go into politics, become a public relations flack or choose some other career. Young men and women enter the profession of journalism because they are dedicated to and respect the principle of responsible journalism.

Don’t blame journalists for reporting the news or naively believe all reporters harbor a secret agenda to destroy real estate agents. If you have a different viewpoint, why not contact a journalist and offer yourself as a source? But don’t whine about the news and point fingers. Remember, when you point one finger at a journalist, three are pointing back at you.

And for the record, at many daily newspapers, a copy editor writes the headline. Not the reporter.

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elizabeth weintraub

 

 

Weintraub and Wallace Realtors

 

 

Elizabeth Weintraub reviews

 

 

 

Elizabeth Weintraub is co-partner of Weintraub & Wallace Team of Top Producing Realtors, an author, home buying expert at The Balance, a Land Park resident, and a veteran real estate agent who specializes in older, classic homes in Land Park, Curtis Park, Midtown, Carmichael and East Sacramento, as well as tract homes in Elk Grove, Natomas, Roseville and Lincoln. Call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759. Put our combined 80 years of real estate experience to work for you. Broker-Associate at RE/MAX Gold. DRE License # 00697006.

Photo: Unless otherwise noted in this blog, the photo is copyrighted by Big Stock Photo and used with permission.The views expressed herein are Weintraub's personal views and do not reflect the views of RE/MAX Gold. Disclaimer: If this post contains a listing, information is deemed reliable as of the date it was written. After that date, the listing may be sold, listed by another brokerage, canceled, pending or taken temporarily off the market, and the price could change without notice; it could blow up, explode or vanish. To find out the present status of any listing, please go to elizabethweintraub.com.

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Rainmaker
250,018
Mike Klijanowicz
Cummings & Co. Realtors - Perry Hall, MD
Associate Broker @ Cummings & Co. Realtors
We aren't blaming them for reporting the news, but why do they ALWAYS tend to report only the negative side of it?  Instead of saying how bad the recent home prices have declined, why not do an article about how great a time it is to buy for buyers as sellers who can't sell are often giving away ALL of the closing costs?
Nov 23, 2007 12:11 PM #1
Ambassador
251,212
Jesse & Kathy Clifton
Jesse Clifton & Associates, REALTORS® - Fairbanks, AK
Retired

Hi, Elizabeth

I think for the most part reporters do a decent job, but at the end of the day it's about circulation numbers, i.e. revenue.  Headlines are written, stories are put to press that will sell copy.  That isn't necessarily the fault of the 'journalist' however but more of an editorial/management issue.

Jesse

Nov 23, 2007 12:17 PM #2
Rainmaker
2,190,192
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

That's a valid question, Michael, and thank you for asking it. The answer is they do. But journalists can't spend all their time touting what a great buyer's market it is when foreclosure numbers are escalating, subprime mortgages are causing a crisis and sellers are losing their shirts. To continually send the message that hey, buyers, wake up and buy could be seen as taking sides, as pandering. Journalists need to present a balanced view. They do. I've read "This is a Good Time to Buy" stories. And I think if you read most articles, you will see a balanced view is presented.

The real gripe agents should have is against themselves for not reading articles in their entirety and against themselves again for thinking that consumers aren't smart enough to read the entire stories, either. In fairness, though, some consumers don't read stories, they skim headlines. 

If you read a story that you feel is in accurate or that another viewpoint should be presented or you have an interesting angle the reporter should consider, you should call that reporter. Reporters rely on good sources. Agents who sit on the fence and yap (not you, Michael) are part of the problem, not the solution!


Nov 23, 2007 12:23 PM #3
Rainmaker
2,190,192
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

Hi Jesse & Kathy: At the "end of the day" as you put, is when it comes time for publishers consider closing the doors. But at no point in between does a journalist ever consider compromising integrity and truthfulness to drive ad sales or subscription numbers. I'm telling you, from the journalistic side, it doesn't happen. When the Arkansas Gazette closed it doors in 1991, the reporters tried to buy the paper to keep it in circulation, just so they could keep writing for the public. It didn't pan out. But journalists -- and the journalists I know are passionate, committed individuals to the profession -- care more about delivering the news than ad numbers; in fact, they are adamantly opposed to figuring those numbers into their job. It's again the grain and principle.


Nov 23, 2007 12:32 PM #4
Rainmaker
129,649
Kevin McGrath
Long & Foster Real Estate Companies- Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania - Fredericksburg, VA
Long & Foster Real Estate Companies

I hear you, but I also think that just being able to pass the bar does not make one an "ethical" lawyer. Meaning, just because they went to journalism school, it does not mean they are objective. Just that they could pass the test. I am sure that there are many very fine journalists out there, your husband and mother included. This is more a comment on the industry as a whole, and please don't take any offense.

I just watch the news and read the papers every day, and it is all gloom and doom, in the headlines anyway.

THERE ARE NO LOANS ! THE MORTGAGE INDUSTRY IS IN CRISIS !

I have yet to have a client that could not get a loan, and we are not talking about a wacky subprime. Where are the stories about the banks that are still making loans? Where are the stories about the realtors who work 7 days a week to help their clients? The stories about the loan officers and settlement agents that are available Sunday mornings for assistance and even closings?

It seems all the stories on the housing market are negative, and the sun never seems to shine.

 

 

Nov 24, 2007 12:07 AM #5
Rainmaker
2,190,192
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

For sellers, Kevin, the housing market is negative. I'm talking in areas where it's a buyer's market. There is more news about the subprime mortgage crisis, foreclosures, short sales, builders and agents closing their doors than there is about the hard working little real estate agent who is struggling to find a silver lining in this mess. However, that's not to say that news shouldn't report about buyers who are able to get loans and agents who are working 7 days a week. You should call your local reporter and suggest it.

You'll never pick up the morning paper to read a headline that says. "No Murders Last Night. Everybody Slept Safely in Their Beds."


 

Nov 24, 2007 01:27 AM #6
Rainer
209,246
Marc Grossman
Marc It Sold! - Longwood, FL
GRI, Greater Orlando Real Estate Broker
I understand what you are saying and yes, they should get more respect than they do.  The problem is that newspapers are trying to make money and sensationalism sells.  I have no problem with the truth being reported, just when its over exagerated.  Our local paper for many years was nicknamed The Orlando Slantinel.  It's not as much the reporters as the editorial staff, but to the general public this will reflect on all the jornalists. 
Nov 24, 2007 07:00 AM #7
Ambassador
251,212
Jesse & Kathy Clifton
Jesse Clifton & Associates, REALTORS® - Fairbanks, AK
Retired

Elizabeth... I'm talking editors and publishers, not necessarily journalists. Their job is to report the news but newspapers are for-profit organizations.  Stories are run, but not necessarily written, based on their projected ability to sell newspapers... convroversy, scandals, bad news, etc. = high circulation numbers.  Excluding the viability of any particular newspaper it still remains that publishers are interested in circulation numbers and revenue. 

Nov 24, 2007 08:17 PM #8
Rainmaker
129,649
Kevin McGrath
Long & Foster Real Estate Companies- Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania - Fredericksburg, VA
Long & Foster Real Estate Companies

Elizabeth,

Point taken - I think I will call the paper. Good idea.

Nov 25, 2007 12:31 AM #9
Rainmaker
223,010
John MacArthur
Century 21 Redwood - Washington, DC
Licensed Maryland/DC Realtor, Metro DC Homes

Elizabeth - Ah, reading a fair and balanced post is such a sweet way to spend time. I was raised by a journalist. I grew up sitting in a newsroom, using newsprint for a sketch pad, while my father two fingered yet another article on his old Royal typewriter. I learned the difference between the marks made with a black pencil and a red pencil.

As I got older, I began to understand his dedication to reporting facts. I had the opportunity to mingle with other scribes and listen to their discussions. Journalists remain the Fourth Estate. They hear, see and speak the truth as they see it.

I think the larger problem our industry has with the media involves each of us personally dealing with the truth and what we would prefer the truth to be. It is very easy to ferret out the few exceptions to the rule and rail against those that report what is occuring on a larger scale. It is much easier to sit around the office and bemoan local news reports than it is to actually have a dialogue with a journalist. The journalist will not be swayed by emotional pleas to soft sell the truth. The journalist has no dog in this fight.

The facts have been the same for almost one year. The housing market is on a down turn. Prices are falling. Loans are more difficult to get. There are too many agents. There is no definite end in sight. Wall Street advisors are now speaking of the likelihood of a recession next year. These are facts.

Journalists do not report "good news" or "bad news". Journalists report news. The information reported is then deemed good or bad depending on the personal perspective of the reader. The truth being reported about the real estate market is not good news to many agents. The fact that the number of foreclosures continues to rise is not good news to many agents. The fact that buyers are perceiving that this "wonderful" time to buy, may not be such a good time to buy is not good news to many agents. The fact that prices continue to fall in many markets is not good news to many agents.

Journalist are just sharing the facts. Certainly articles will carry a slant. In the old days that was considered one part of a writers "style". The language used and the way the story is painted will always be unique. This, in most cases, will not change the facts. It will only color the way that the facts are shared.

Thank you for sharing the other side of the story. Journalists should never be confused with the talking heads found on the nightly news.

Nov 27, 2007 02:01 AM #10
Rainmaker
2,190,192
Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%
RE/MAX Gold - Sacramento, CA
Put 40 years of experience to work for you

Thank you, John, for taking the time to type all that and for pointing out that journalists do NOT have a dog in the fight, regardless of whatever conspiracy theory those less informed may believe. As for the two-fingering, my husband never learned to type with all his fingers. He primarily hunts and pecks with two fingers, but still manages to type faster than a 12th grader. :) 

And yes, the talking heads on the evening news are definitely NOT journalists.


Nov 27, 2007 02:13 AM #11
Rainmaker
495,232
Daniel J. Brudnok, REALTOR
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach, REALTORS - Exton - PA License #RS-225179-L / Delaware License #RS-0025038 - Downingtown, PA
SRES, e-PRO,ABR,GREEN,CSP

Elizabeth,

I understand the need to report.  The need to sell newspapers.  There are always follow-up storied that seem to drag out an event.

My biggest gripe is that the 24/7 regurgitation of news just to fill air and space just to justify someones job.

Nov 27, 2007 02:17 AM #12
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