Reporters looking for drama
Some of the posts on my business blog get the attention of local media and the reporters call. What I find fascinating is that they often already have their story and they call people until they find someone who will corroborate it. I think it has something to do with needing two sources.
As a Realtor I know what is going on in the local housing market long before it is on the radar of the local or national news media. They report on it, I live it every day as an industry insider. I know my city and I know the market.
Just the facts
I publish numbers on my blog. They come from our MLS and as a responsible journalist I site my sources and I keep my numbers and am willing to explain them to anyone who asks. I double and triple check everything before I post.
Recently I wrote a post about home prices by neighborhood. I put it in draft form and set it to post a few days later. The day before I posted a local newspaper had a story about home prices in one of the neighborhoods and stated that property values had gone up in that neighborhood.
The numbers I posted the next day indicated that values had gone down. My own experience indicates that values have gone down. Most of my listings are in the same neighborhood and I have been tracking prices for years.
A few of my readers commented on my post and others sent email asking me if I had read the story in the paper. I had read the story but I read it after I wrote my own post. I explained my numbers to my readers and I am standing by them.
Reporters can be wrong
Working for a newspaper does not make a reporter right. They don’t own the news. The newspaper article had commentary by local agents. They call and the agent likes the idea of having their name in the paper so they run with it. I tend to be a bit more cautious. I am comfortable with skipping the free publicity and keeping my integrity.
I have a background in statistics and I excel at MS Excel. I used to work for the government and creating reports from data was a large part of my job. I stand behind my numbers and am used to the idea of defending them. I am not intimidated by the publications that don’t agree with the numbers on my blog.
We are the media too
There really isn’t any need for damage control either. Like I wrote in my post I just publish numbers I don’t put any spin on them and I don’t include much commentary other than to explain where the numbers came from and to point out obvious trends. For some I have become the “source” for St. Paul housing stats. I leave the spin and the drama to the media and the local board of Realtors.
Bloggers are also the media; ideally they report on or write about their area of expertise. While the local newspapers and radio stations are laying people off while citizen journalism is growing daily.
January 28, 2009 at 8:51 am
There is something about the printed word that mesmerizes some people. I wonder when the digital word will surpass the built-in credibility of print media?
I often have people quote & manipulate statistics from our community newsletter, statistic that they don’t remember I published, in an attempt to make their *case* for a higher price (or lower if they are on the buying side). I stand by my numbers too but it seems people often read what they want to see in the words and numbers.
January 28, 2009 at 9:01 am
I wouldnt go as far as to say bloggers are part of the media. With the media, there are generally accepted standards when it comes to publishing. Whether or not they are adhered to is akin to Realtors and the COE, but the fact remains that most bloggers dont have a clue about responsible publishing.
January 28, 2009 at 6:26 pm
Teresa – You and I share a similar position in our respective communities in that the print/radio/etc seek us out because we provide consistently credible information. In the same vein, a lot of Realtor associations have developed and earned reputations for producing consistently spun information.
Another benefit of blogging about the market is that your numbers are there for everyone to see – transparency brings power.
Some bloggers are part of the media, just as some members of the “old-school” media abide by generally accepted standards of publishing. Many bloggers I know are more accountable, sometimes far more accountable, to their readers than are the disinterested and disconnected publishers.
January 28, 2009 at 9:48 pm
I agree – you don’t need to own a newspaper or have a staff to be credible. You just need to be consistently accurate (or you may eventually be called out.) I think that the quality of the story and information will drive the perception. Besides, when you have your personal good name on the line, you wouldn’t throw information around haphazardly (and I think the public knows this) We assume accuracy. I can count the real hyper local news content producers in my part of Houston on one hand.
Local bloggers could look for the drama too… and probably will as competition increases and ‘just the facts’ is not enough to gain readers. Consistent drama is what drives old school media, and it creeps into blogs.
We are most definitely the new school of reporting. Anyone who chooses to can participate.
January 28, 2009 at 10:44 pm
I love the term “citizen journalism.” As a citizen journalist, I take my work very seriously, double and triple check my facts, and am slowly gaining a reputation in my neighborhood for being a good source of information.
I am not sure that “most bloggers don’t have a clue about responsible publishing” (Bob) is a fair observation. Probably some do, some don’t. I find that intelligent people tend to track down the intelligent and responsible blogs. The public is a little more savvy than they’re given credit for.
January 29, 2009 at 3:47 am
You are so right – bloggers are “citizen journalists” and if we maintain the appropriate standards and print the facts as reporters, our position in the media world is no different than any other credible journalist –
January 29, 2009 at 10:07 am
You are telling me that the majority of bloggers verify sources and check facts before hitting the submit button? The reason for the suit in Miami was for that very reason – facts were not checked. Did any of the RE blogging community bother to bring that up?
Most of what RE bloggers publish are more like letters to the editor – opinion – not objective reporting.
Citizen journalist is a catchy phrase, but it doesn’t apply when you what you are reporting about impacts your business and income. That is a clear cut conflict of interest and doesnt qualify as journalism. Real estate bloggers have been among the worst when it comes to being objective because there is a vested interest in the outcome.
There is a huge difference between being a writer and being a journalist.
from the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics.
January 29, 2009 at 11:59 pm
I’m not a journalist. Heck, I barely qualify as a writer. I’m a real estate broker who writes a blog.
That said, I do check every fact I publish. I do cite my sources. That’s more than I can say for a LOT of the mainstream media.
Am I always right? Of course not. And if I’m wrong, I’ll freely admit it (something the MSM seems loathe to do).
But the bulk of what I post on my blog is my opinion. But I try to back that up with verifiable data.
I know for a fact that local television and print reporters regularly read my blog and others for story ideas. They call frequently. Many times they won’t print or televise what I say. I think that T nailed that — it’s because what I say doesn’t jive with what they want to print. I also know which reporters are prone to misquoting and/or manipulating what I say and simply don’t talk to them. I’ve got a cool feature on my phone where I can just send their calls straight to voice mail which I delete.
To their credit though, there are some local reporters here who do a great job. They never misquote and they present both sides of a story.
I think newspaper and television get instant (and often misplaced) credibility due to their longevity. They were once the only source of news and for many, despite what us blogger types would like to believe, they are still the only source of news.
January 30, 2009 at 8:24 am
Lets face it, the days of newspapers are done. Online blogging is the future and it looks like we are already in it. In terms of crediblity, it is up to the author. Nice Post and thanks for sharing this thought with us!
February 1, 2009 at 1:43 pm
Bob – furthering this part of the discussion … for the most part, real estate blogs are transparent with their biases; not so much with traditional media platforms.
Read this post from the Wikinomics blog, specifically this comment that was pulled from this blog: