The secret tactics used by the media




Real Estate Agents – lazy journalism



The secret tactics used by the media to expose real estate agents are also of public interest. Whenever there is nothing to report real estate drama is trotted out. Almost every week there is ‘news’ on horrible landlords and agents exploiting tenants, or agents ripping off purchasers by underquoting, or agents pushing up prices.



If agents behaved that badly that often – as reported – governments could campaign for a Royal Commission. Clearly, ridding this scourge of the community would be a vote-winner. So as the old saying goes ‘if it is on the television, it is rare’. The vast majority of agents are not controversial and do not want fines or a bad reputation.



Interestingly, the media relies on a select group of industries as their go-to when news is slow. The irony is that negative reporting is often false or sensationalist and only serves the ‘news’ outlets, not the public. The very criticism of misleading behaviour equally applies to the media. How often have you heard celebrities say the media just make it up?



For example, the Ferrari driving no sock real estate agent that would sell their mother for a commission is almost always part of a real estate story. The facts are most agents wear socks and would not even consider driving a Ferrari as it is impractical. Indeed, many agents consider this image tacky and not an indicator of success. However, the media would have people believe all agents are suave, Tick Tok and social media influencers that flout the law and behave manipulatively.



Not journalism



The media seems to love providing the public with a negative caricature of real estate agents. Headlines like Real estate agents and insiders expose the secret tactics used offered by ABC’s 4 Corners program were frankly pathetic. This program selected bad agents and suggested their behaviours were the tactics generally used by all real estate agents – hence the headline. That is incredibly unfair to the hard-working honest agents that resent being portrayed as villains.



The coverage suggested these ‘tactics’ were rife but there were no statistics or evidence that proved those claims. Indeed, highlighting specific suburbs rather than regions and individual accounts rather than industry statistics illustrates media sensationalism. Clearly, tactics were used to create publicity for the channel not to inform the public.



The program singled out terrible agent behaviour and suggested this is how most agents operate. The media yet again manipulated issues in the real estate industry to fit a narrative of rabid agents behaving badly. My question is who can expose the bad behaviours of the media? Perhaps they tell stories because the public love gossip, controversy, crime, or outrage.



One could argue that is manipulating ratings by providing sensationalist news that gives them higher rankings. Could that mean that when there is no juicy topic, the media goes to the old faithful content that people love to hate? Is that tactic?



Your right to know



The media cites ‘the public’s right to know’ but there are a lot of things we are not allowed to know – why is that? Ask anybody and they will provide you with a list of things they cannot find the answers to. Yet, even though there is a topic the public wants to know about the media prefers to rehash stories over and over again. Why not even follow up on the issues they ‘expose’ to see if the issue has improved? Don’t we want to know that? Wasn’t that the point of the story?



Maybe if the problem improved, they cannot rehash that story for the slow media periods. The media should examine the content and give statistical context. Like a percentage of agents in a state that demonstrates unscrupulous behaviours. Graphs are great for this and media outlets love graphs. Maybe the reason is that if the public saw the percentages, it wouldn’t be a story at all.



The media love to argue that ‘freedom of speech’ is sacrosanct but media stories rank well when someone says something awful – racist, sexist, cruel. Perhaps the media wants free speech because when someone is speaking in a disgusting way the public is interested. Should someone being abusive or disparaging be heralded? Is that ethical? What about the victim feels? Is that a secret tactic? Clearly, bad ‘speech’ is more valuable to media outlets than nice speech.



It is important to call out unprofessional conduct every time. However, the media should provide evidence and demonstrate how damaging it is throughout an industry. The actions of a few should not be a poster child for an industry and those that live in glass houses should not throw stones.