Thursday, November 30, 2006

Boston Globe Befuddled!

In yet another example of the traditional media showing itself to be completely incapable of providing an truthful, accurate and unbiased account of current events, Kimberly Blanton, a staff “residential real estate” reporter revealed an interesting peek into the sorry workings of the Boston Globe.

Wednesday morning, the Boston Globe published an article entitled “End of housing decline near?” with the summary line “Drops in price and sales moderate, hinting market may be starting to stabilize” within which Kimberly quotes a host of real estate insiders who, in typical fashion, portray the current housing decline in Massachusetts as showing signs of stabilization.

Later in the day, hosted an “online real estate chat” where Kimberly fielded questions about the state of the housing market and reflected on her article.

I posed to her this single question:

SoldAtTheTop: “Given that (1) Inflation adjusted median single family home price has been below 2004 median price since April and that August and Sept actually sent prices below the median set in 2003. (2) October has shown the lowest volume of sales any October since 1994. (3) Massachusetts is now poised for the greatest yearly sales drop of single family homes in at least the 17 years that sales have been charted. How are you able to responsibly report that there are "signs of market stabilization"?”

To that she answered:

Kimberly_Blanton: “That's a great question. Frankly, an editor threw that in & I'm not sure why. It's too early to say for sure what will happen. We can only look at the numbers and see which direction they're going. As I quoted Sue Hawkes saying - and she's accurate - the sales declines and price declines were smaller. That doesn't mean we're out of the woods and there could be more trouble ahead. However, the economy is good. Thanks for your input.”

..."Frankly, an editor threw that in & I’m not sure why?!?!?!?"

What has happened to the traditional media?

A reporter pens an article that, as its premise, suggests that recent housing data might be showing signs of “market stabilization” and the reporter not only doesn’t agree with the premise, she doesn’t even KNOW WHY the point was being made!

Not to mention, this is not some rinky-dink local paper, it’s the Boston Globe!.. supposedly one of the nations premier news organizations.

Hopefully all who read this post will stop for a moment to reflect on the fact that although traditional news sources hold a degree of credibility granted by their history and longevity as news organizations, that doesn’t guarantee that their product is of high quality.

To the contrary, it seems now more than ever that the conflict between advertising-business interests and reporting what’s in the best interest of readers has rendered the traditional media all but hollow of any legitimate content.

The Blogesphere and other forms of “new media” aren’t perfect but I would suspect you would be hard pressed to find a committed blogger that, when questioned, wouldn’t know why they published a particular post or put forward a particular position.

Finally, Ill leave you with a final thought.

The National Association of Realtors has single handedly crafted some of the most popular and widely held mythical notions concerning the housing market and residential real estate but I bet if you asked around, it would be virtually impossible to find anyone who absorbed any of these ideas directly from a NAR press release.

No. It has been the traditional media that has perpetuated these half truths disseminating them to the masses, without even a hint of skeptical insight or analytical wisdom.

Could “Real Estate Section” advertising revenues be so important that national newspapers become effectively popularized mouthpieces for an industry that has shown itself on countless occasions to function entirely out of its inherent self interest?

Here’s a link to the entire transcript of the “online chat” with Boston Globe reporter Kimberly Blanton.