Surely you know the answer to that.
It seems rather simple. We all know that just because it’s on the internet, it’s not necessarily true. There are all sorts of lies, half-truths, and outright wacky stuff floating around out there. The internet is one giant collection of information that may or may-not be true. We do our best to wade through it all and make informed decisions, but sometimes we find ourselves reading about the latest invasion by little green men and thinking, “Hmmm, I didn’t hear about that, but it sounds so convincing…it must be true.”
Ok, so maybe “little green men” is pushing it, but the fact remains that there is truth out there, we just need to know where to find it. Or publish it ourselves. As real estate bloggers it is essential that we hold ourselves to the highest of journalistic standards (even when we don’t give much credence to journalists’ standards). Real estate blogging has evolved from it’s early days of “is there anybody out there?” to a true powerhouse of information – whether local or national in scope – we are in control of our own industry with the words and actions on our own blogs (and as has been evidenced right here at AgentGenius, in control of our own National Association of Realtors® – the words we write can and do matter).
Carefully crafting your message.
Although we are looked to for opinions as agents, a good chunk of our blogging efforts comes down to the facts. People want to know numbers and statistics, how to sell their home, and how contracts work. They want information, not conjecture. This week, all that went out the window with news that the Senate had tentatively agreed on an extension of the First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit. Within moments of the stories hitting the news wire, I began to see tweets and posts from agents about how the extension had been passed. The Senate had yet to even vote on whether to vote on it. Forget the House and the President. They hadn’t even started the actual process that brings an idea into law. They sat and had coffee and discussed it and everyone said “yeah, sounds good to me” (not quite how it happened, but you get the picture). Most tweets I saw had links to articles in the more traditional media outlets, so I clicked and read. In article after article there was absolutely no mention of the words “passed” or “it happened” or “it’s been extended.” Some had some iffy-headlines (and I believe this was done to draw eyeballs and for SEO reasons), but every one of them was clear that it had not been voted on…yet.
So did all those agents caught up in that flurry of activity know they were crafting a message with misinformation or were they just not sure what the deal was and reported it just because it was what they wanted to hear? Were they jumping on it in order to be first in their local area to report it? Did they even know what they were retweeting? Did they do it just hoping to attract new clients, truth be damned?
Jay Thompson and I began talking about it and both of us disliked what we were seeing. So we set out to tell a few people as our frustrations mounted. The responses I received were a) silence, b) “you’re wrong, I just read it on CNBC”, or c) “oh, I heard it from _________, a trusted source”. None of those were responses I expected to hear. I can’t speak for Jay, but I know by the end of the day I was tired of talking and typing. Were my efforts in vain? Did those that I spoke with view me with disdain or as some sort of smarty pants? To be quite frank, I don’t care. I didn’t do it to boost my own ego, I did it to try and keep the wrong information from spreading like wildfire. Sure, I barely put a dent in the noise, but I did what I could and I’m happy with that.
You are the reporter.
I was going to write a lengthy diatribe here, but instead, I’m going to leave you with a tweet I received from Jim Duncan during our discussions of what was happening.
Amen, Jim, amen.
photo courtesy of Otto Yamamoto
Additional note: The photo is really not related in any sense to the article except for the fact that it showed up in a search of Flickr for the word “truth.” Somehow, I thought it was perfect for the article. Go figure.