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Old 04-26-2013, 05:11 PM   #26
WOAH! i think Vtec just kicked in!
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Vancouver
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althought I'm not really a fan of Garth Turner, I thought his blog ( a bearish stance on Real estate) piece on this subject was pretty good:

from Book and Weblog – Authored by Garth Turner — Greater Fool – Authored by Garth Turner – The Troubled Future of Real Estate


A brief follow-up on the woman starring in yesterday’s post. Kerri-Lynn McAlister is an exec at an online company selling mortgage referrals, and a media-savvy promoter. The Toronto Star’s real estate writer (Susan Pigg) featured her yesterday in a splashy piece on how condo-renters are being screwed by big rent increases. The back story: investor-landlords rake in the money and tenants suffer. Just the kind of message mortgage lenders get all juiced over.

The Star portrayed McAlister as a distraught renter. It did not reveal her position as a mortgage player, a real estate spokesperson nor someone previously interviewed by that paper as a housing expert. Until this blog got involved. Editors then went into damage control. Another writer was added to the story, the piece was rewritten to identity KLM as an insider, and the focus was shifted to the demands of a tenants’ association for more rent control laws.

In addition, this was added: “Note – April 26, 2013: This article was edited from a previous version to include the age and occupation of Kerri Lynn McAllister.”

Now, this is not a seminal story by any means. Poor KLM was just doing her job, which is to trash renting and promote buying. If I ran a website churning dollars with every click-through loan referral, I’d want this little digger on my bench.

But if I ran, say, the Toronto Star, I’d be wondering, Did the writer know this information and suppress it because the ‘victim’ angle was stronger? Did the writer not bother to Google the person she devoted a half-page to? Was it a lack of ethics or competence? Or is the writer’s undeclared mandate to promote real estate ownership, since the newspaper cannot afford to lose more lineage from developers, builders and realtors?

As I mentioned yesterday, this is hardly an isolated instance. Blogs like this and Whispers from the Edge of the Rainforest have routinely detailed similar examples of media deception over the past year. It comes at the same time mainstream media outlets are in serious financial trouble. Just days ago employees at the Vancouver Sun and Province were warned of looming buyouts and layoffs in dire terms. Revenue declines, the publisher told employees, are “alarming and unprecedented.”

In a long letter begging staff to voluntarily quit, he says: “Please understand that we need your help. And if you do anything every day of the week, let it be this: ask yourself if you are part of the solution or are willing to be part of the solution. If you aren’t part of the solution, ask yourself why that it. We are all in this together and we are all fighting not only for the future of The Vancouver Sun and The Province, but for the lives and well-being of our families.”

Indeed, Postmedia, owners of the BC papers and slew of others, is bleeding $1 million per week. Advertising has fallen another 14% in the past year. Meanwhile the nation’s largest newspaper, the Star, has just announced its own ‘please-quit’ program for employees and is actually farming out production of its pages. The Globe, as you know, erected a paywall around its web site, as it also jettisoned staff.

CTV has recently laid off on-air people, camera operators and radio hosts. The CBC’s been punting 650 employees for the past year. And Rogers, with a massive cable monopoly, shocked workers months ago with hundreds of layoffs.

The point is that revenue models no longer work for traditional media organizations because they’re based on eyeballs. As readership and viewership wither, so do the ad dollars. Gone are the days when everybody in town had the same morning paper tossed on their doorstep, or tuned in to the same supperhour newscast.

Part of the reason is the proliferation of new vehicles (I recently discovered the Fireplace Channel), plus alternative information sources like this blog. Another reason: print and TV newsrooms are whoring themselves. As media turns from useful, original content to the delivery of advertising messages, it gets irrelevant and annoying. If a paper wants to succeed, the last person shown the door should be a reporter. These days they lead the exodus.

I spent many years in newsrooms, and will never forget the first day I showed up, all shiny and new, at a small daily. The grizzled editor stood over my desk, staring at me getting organized.

“There’s no news in here,” he growled. “Get the hell out the door.”

I did. Still there.
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