Mass media and real estate
Channel 7 Boom or Bust could only really get a one-star review. The show appeared to be a cut-and-paste of things audiences like to see rather than information about the real estate boom and bust. Whether the property market is rising or falling television channels love to focus on ways the public can dislike agents – even covertly. Rather than focus on what investments people could be looking at in quiet markets, or interviewing relevant stakeholders, the mass media networks find new ways to sensationalise the irrelevant.
The relevance of the billion-dollar property in Barangaroo’s Crown Residences Sydney which has been for sale for the past three years had little to nothing to do with the current real estate markets. Indeed, it is suspicious that it was being advertised as it is for sale. As a mass medium, Channel 7’s audience was unlikely able to purchase this property or even care how it would be tracking during a boom or bust. Indeed, it was hard to understand who in channel 7’s audience would care.
Equally the agents that were commentating on the market were also not from Channel 7’s targeted demographic for this topic. Real estate agents that sell multimillion-dollar properties actually stated their market is fine because their buyers don’t need finance. Media networks also appear to love creating caricatures of agents – gaudy show ponies – that people can enjoy disliking. There are very few of these agents yet this is how many people perceive agents in general.
Rag to riches stories?
Celebrity flipper Cherie Barber was also on the show but the significance of her input was also very vague. Stating that every market is a good market is a cold comfort for purchasers that cannot get a loan. The comment that real estate is a long-term investment is also in the master of the obvious realm. Rag-to-riches stories should be left to shows that are about people that have succeeded and their journeys, not boom-to-bust shows. Even the host Larry Emdur got in on the ‘I started with a $500 deposit’ story. This almost seemed insulting to the thousands of people that are really trying to buy or sell in this market.
This show was able to subtly mock agents, suggest that everyone could buy if they were motivated enough and provide little to no new information people could use during a boom or bust. Instead of this collage of top ten Google hits Chanel 7 could have stuck to the brief. Larry Emdur should have looked at the rise and the fall of property and what real people in average suburbs are experiencing.
Mass media has the luxury of having no scrutiny. They are able to denigrate industries, mock behaviours and incite loathing but who can do that to them? The irony is sensationalising the rises and falls and attaching villains to the stories is rating gold. The channels themselves are contributing to these booms and busts! The audiences they claim to be informing are actually adversely affected by their hype.
Constantly reporting in a panicked format, that the market is rising or falling is a mass message that drives behaviours. Markets are not equal and the mass media knows this but only when they sensationalise it can they make money. The networks can then distract their harmful contribution by blaming other industries. Clearly, there are bad agents, bad financial institutions and bad politicians and the media needs to inform the public. The question is, who informs the public of bad mass media and their impact on these boom and bust markets?