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Media Negativity

Media Negativity

I’ve been in and around news media my whole adult life and I STILL haven’t got used to the way journalists these days can look at a set of numbers that are overwhelmingly positive but find the only negative – and make that their headline.

Somehow, journalists have formed the view that we’re endlessly attracted to screaming negatives and don’t want to hear about anything UPLIFTING that’s happening in the world.

Recently, one of the major real estate data firms published data on the property ownership rates for women and men in Australia.

This was topical because there’s a lot of focus on ways that females are financially disadvantaged, including with the level of super the average woman has at retirement, compared to men.

So the findings of this analysis by CoreLogic was a strong and positive story, because overall it showed that women are more likely to own real estate than men – only slightly, but that finding would have surprised a lot of people.

In some age groups, such as Millennials and Gen X, women were significantly ahead of men on property ownership and with the oldest grouping, Baby Boomers, it was fairly even.

Only with Gen Z, those aged under 30, were males more likely to own property than women.

So, overall, a pretty positive story, right?

Well, no, many reporters managed to turn this into a negative, by focusing their coverage on the only age group that was less successful for women, the Gen Z cohort.

Sadly, typical.

In another recent story, the Pain and Gain report from CoreLogic showed that, in most market jurisdictions across Australia, the vast majority of sales in the past 12 months had been profitable for the vendor.

In Brisbane, every suburb had recorded growth for vendors, both for house sales and unit sales – a 100% success story right across the city.

It was similar in Adelaide, Perth and Sydney – close to 100% of suburbs had delivered house price growth and unit price growth for vendors in the past year.

But a lot of the media coverage found a negative for their headline. In Melbourne, 82% of suburbs recorded annual growth in unit prices – but the media coverage focussed on the 18% that didn’t.

“Nearly one in five suburbs recorded price falls,” shouted one headline.

There are myriad examples of media’s desire to focus on – or create – sensational negatives, with little or no attention to the potential positives.

Every day, across Australia, there are articles describing the rental shortage – which doesn’t fit the definition of “news” because everyone KNOWS there’s an under-supply of rental homes – but it’s very rare to see anyone write about potential solutions to the shortage.

It’s even less likely that you will see anything published that sets out to help tenants seeking a decent place to rent.

Housing affordability is seen by journalists as a hot button issue and they write about it endlessly, but usually only from the perspective that it’s hopeless for wannabee first-home buyers, that it takes decades to save a deposit and that they’re doomed to a lifetime of renting – although, clearly, none of that is true.

It’s very rare to see anything published that HELPS young buyers, with advice on how they can get into the market.

The degree to which news media is disinterested in being HELPFUL to people – focusing instead on startling everyone to create clickbait – is quite distressing.

In news media, the oldest adage of all – If It Bleeds, It Leads – still applies, sadly.


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