Posted by Leonard Steinberg on April 8th, 2012
Is the media in its attempts to remain profitable in a digital world diminishing in accuracy? NBC highlighted this phenomenon this week with the Trayvon Martin shooting. With fewer staff and less time to report accurately and check facts, and with so much information out there, I feel the quality of reporting is slipping badly. Statements and claims are made, reports are posted, and they become ‘fact’ forever on the web…..regardless of their accuracy. Does no-one have the time to determine accuracy or question anything anymore? I see this rather consistently in real estate land: articles about celebrities buying and selling and living in apartments they have never visited; reports of market activity that while accurate, don’t reflect what is happening in the market currently yet are never explained; broker lies quoted and repeated; ‘half the story’ reporting. It’s bad. Really bad.
I understand there is romance in virtual reality….. Reality TV certainly has taken the meaning of the word ‘reality’ to an entirely new plateau. Was the motivation for this fun, or is reality TV just a means to create Jerry Springer-style cheap content? Politicians espouse claims that are not fact based all the time: but in our digital world, without much scrutiny, those claims become fact and a new reality is created, regardless of truth. Kim Kardashian’s marriage is another bad example of UNREALITY TV.
Last week, all the real estate companies released their first quarter reports: the press reported on them as if these reports were a clear indicator of what was going on in the market right now, even though any mildly informed person would know that these reports are based on closed sales…..or transactions that happened mostly in the fourth quarter of 2011. Now imagine if I tried to report on the price of Apple stock to-day (trading above $ 600) if I referred to the trades that happened in November 2011 ($ 400)? The reports are not to blame for this warped perspective: those reporting on the reports should be explaining what is really happening. Its just awful.
Rick Santorum rages against the wealthy Mitt Romney who he claims cannot understand the simple hard working folk like himself, yet he earns around $ 1million/year……is that so working class? President Obama joked about Mitt Romney’s use of the word MARVELOUS as if to imply that Mitt’s aloof country-club culture could have absolutely no understanding of poor people like Obama……really? Obama earned over $ 5million in 2009. Yet Obama is the man for the common folks? In New York $ 1million does not buy you a mansion, yet you have to pay 1% in MANSION taxes when buying a $ 1million+ home?
NBC reported on the phone call made by George Zimmerman to police the night he fatally shot Trayvon Martin…..they played a version of this call that was edited in a manner to imply that Zimmerman purposefully killed Mr. Martin with racially biased motives. NBC is a major source of information to our planet: Fortunately, the outrage was loud enough to get this producer fired. Mis-information can be dangerous.
What is mostly missing from this new equation is PUBLIC OUTRAGE: And this NBC story may just be the most effective opportunity for all to question everything they see and read just a little bit more, to return a bit of reality to this new virtual reality.
So when real estate brokers ask me if they have a future in a world where so much information is at the fingertips of the consumer, my response is that there will always be a place for an honest, informed broker who truly understands the market and gives opinions and summaries that are legitimate and well researched…..a broker who can sift through the maize of overwhelming information and identify the truth. These future ‘editors’ will be highly sought after, and will also be a very, very rare breed.