The following letter was submitted to the Bend Bulletin today:
I look forward to the Bulletin’s weekly “Real Estate Advertising Section.” At times, however, I find it to be journalistically disingenuous.
In the January 13, 2007 edition, reporter Abby Lowell writes, “real estate remains a great investment,” and, “in Central Oregon, a buyer would likely see their investment appreciate,” without referencing a single supporting fact.
In the February 3, 2007 Real Estate Section, Anissa Anderson reports that, “the market is now on the upswing,” and, “…[home builder] incentives… will surely diminish in coming months.” Ms. Anderson also fails to cite any data or interview to burnish this opinion.
In fact, contrary to Lowell’s and Anderson’s optimism, the Bulletin recently reported that prices for Bend real estate declined in January.
The Ethics Code of the Society of Professional Journalists holds that, “analysis and commentary should be labeled and not misrepresent fact or context.” According to the code, Lowell’s and Anderson’s expressions of unqualified and unfounded optimism related to the local real estate market are, at best, inappropriate.
That is, unless the Bulletin intends to use the Real Estate Section as an advocacy forum for the industry. In that case, it should be made clear that reporters writing for the section are not “reporting;” they are “selling.”
The Ethics Code also addresses this issue specifically: “distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two.” As it stands, it is hard to say that the Real Estate Section is complying with the Ethics Code.