Anyone who is puzzled by the behaviour of major news media can achieve a better understanding if they get this simple proposal: media isn’t interested in helping us or informing us – their goal is to alarm us or downright scare us.
And news media doesn’t particularly care whether the material they’re presenting is accurate or fair or reasonable – as long as they can induce us to click on something, they’re happy to do it, at any cost.
The truth is optional and duty of care is nowhere to be seen.
All forms of news media have chosen this path – publications which previously had pretensions to being quality media, like the Sydney Morning Herald or The Australian, these days have a cheap-and-nasty sensationalist tabloid mentality in news presentation.
Even the national broadcaster the ABC has decided to adopt a tabloid approach to news presentation, focusing on stories about death and violence as their lead items.
It’s a rather bizarre business model. Most businesses seek to make money by making their customers happy or satisfied with their products or services, but news media seeks to make money by making us feel thoroughly miserable.
One of the topics on which all forms of media constantly feed us rubbish, because they think it’ll create clickbait, is housing affordability.
This is a topic where media could, if they chose, be genuinely helpful to people, by providing information that’s shows young people a path to home ownership.
But 99% of media articles on this topic do the opposite – they put all their energies into telling young Australians that it’s hopeless, that the dream is dead and they’re doomed to a lifetime of renting.
News media is full of material that claims it typically takes 15 years to save a deposit or that you can’t achieve a home unless you have an annual income of $150,000.
All this material is rubbish – it’s the worst kind of media misinformation presented by journalists who don’t give a damn about anything, other than a desire to generate clickbait by alarming people.
The Property Tribune recently published information which, according to the headline, showed “How much you need for a house deposit”.
As usual, this was based on the median house price in each city and was therefore irrelevant to first-home buyers who don’t buy homes at the median price.
And that’s what these media articles typically do: they base their claims on the median price, always houses and never apartments, and a 20% deposit.
These parameters are a nonsense. They bear no relationship to a realistic scenario for a first-home buyer.
You don’t need a 20% deposit to get into the market, apartments are a viable and much cheaper alternative, and FHBs don’t buy at the median price – they buy in the lower price ranges.
One of the particularly dishonest things that media does with the affordability issue is constantly publish articles claiming that young people will never be able to buy a home and then run a poll asking people if they think young people will ever be able to afford a home. \
Naturally, these polls invariably find that most people think the answer is no, because media is constantly telling them so.
The Fairfax newspapers ran such a poll in April 2023 as part of a series which clearly set out to support the anti-real estate stance which is so often evident in the tone of their coverage of the housing industry.
The poll was designed to achieve a pre-determined result and that’s what it achieved – and then the article, written by the passionate anti-property campaigner Shane Wright, dishonestly claimed that the result mean that, and I quote, “young Australians have given up on ever buying a home”.
Other media repeated this erroneous and thoroughly dishonest claim.
In recent years, the market share of first-home buyers has been higher than investors, based on the lending data from the ABS.
So it appears that many young Australians are ignoring the doomsday media and just getting on with it.