On Monday 27 March the ABC television program 4 Corners ran an expose on its own shallowness and shabby journalistic standards.
The ABC personnel who put this piece of tabloid television together probably imagined they were crafting an expose of the residential property industry.
It could have been that if the ABC had adhered to quality journalistic standards – but those days are long since past, it seems.
It was titled “Agents of Influence” and it purported to expose the dirty hidden secrets of the industry that manages the sale of homes.
There were a few problems however.
Firstly, none of issues revealed by 4 Corners were secrets, although the program tried to claim that they were, until exposed by 4 Corners.
Essentially it discussed issues that have been prevalent in real estate for decades, such as over-quoting, under-quoting and conditioning tactics.
These issues are undoubtedly a pestilence in the housing market but nothing new was revealed by this shallow and poorly reported piece of pointless television.
Possibly the real story was, or should have been, the reality that – despite the fact that these practices have existed in the real estate industry for decades – the authorities seem powerless in policing them and stamping them out.
Another problem with the pretensions of this 4 Corners episode is that it gathered some of the extreme elements of the real estate industry and tried to claim that this was the mainstream – that every selling agent or buyers’ agent in the industry behaved like the ones presented.
But nothing of the sort is true. This program presented a caricature of the industry – the worst spivs that the ABC could find, claiming that they represented the real estate industry.
I have to say that some of the real estate practitioners who featured in the 4 Corners programs were appalling examples of the worst in the industry – people who are so lost in their own version of what success looks like, that they have no idea about how much they embarrass themselves and their industry.
But they are no more examples of typical real estate agents or buyers’ agents than presenting Andrew Bolt of Sky News as being representative of mainstream journalism.
I’ve been dealing with real estate professionals as a buyer and seller of real estate for over 40 years, and I’ve never encountered anyone like the bizarre individuals presented by 4 Corners as being typical of the industry.
Let’s be clear – this 4 Corners program was tabloid journalism at its worst.
In putting together such a dishonest misrepresentation of the property industry, the ABC was itself guilty of the kind of deception and duplicity it was accusing the real estate industry of undertaking every day.
The journalist who put this together was as shifty and as lacking in basic ethics as the real estate people he was seeking to expose.
I stopped watching 4 Corners a long time ago, because it stopped producing quality journalism a long time ago.
I had seen a series of 4 Corners programs which were blatantly biased in their presentation of a range of issues and failed to present both sides of a story or give accused parties the right of reply.
So I stopped watching. But I made an exception for the 27 March program, because I wanted to see if anything had changed with ABC journalistic standards.
Sadly, nothing has changed – if anything, the ABC has got worse and, in my view, no longer deserves to be watched or supported.