It seems that the reporting of the state of the economy, in particular the housing market, is decided by some sort of Wheel of Fortune as in the same week, whilst one news agency is reporting the worst (seasonally adjusted) housing figures in decades, another agency is reporting that not since the credit crunch should we be so positive about the housing market?
Incredibly, one news agency even ran both opposing arguments on the same day a couple of weeks back. In the morning, we were told that, backed by a rise in first time buyers, the housing market had seen a 20% increase in mortgage lending in Feb of this year but in the afternoon an opposing piece ran with doom mongering precision to state that the UK government needs to intervene in the housing market before we become a nation of renters as the first time buyers are being priced out of the market.
It seems that UK first time buyers are the real life personification of Schrödinger's cat in that they are both sparking life into and causing the death of the housing market simultaneously. That the article had quotes from people plugging products for first time buyers was entirely by co-incidence obviously.
So Who or What Do You Believe?
If the same news agency, (and not it wasn’t the DailyMail for once) is reporting two conflicting arguments as gospel truth, how do we as mere mortals know which is the truth? How can we have any faith in the decisions we make as consumers, home owners, and business owners if we have as much confidence in our news and the standards of its reporting as we have in believing what our politicians tell us?
If we as consumers are thinking of going on holiday we value the Foreign Office website. It tells us, based in reality where we should avoid and where we perhaps don’t need to avoid, but should exercise caution.
So when we are thinking about buying a new car, moving home, and spending our money or investing our money in preparation of more rainy days, then doesn’t the news, and the reporting of the economy have an influence in our confidence? It’s arguable that the reporting of the economy may influence whether some businesses will invest in growth or look ahead and instead worry about the possibility of making redundancies? So then shouldn’t the news be accurate and unbiased?
Perhaps the real answer in why print media is dead and that the infection has now spread to online news, is because news agencies are now less interested in news, and more interested in having any old content to pad out the pages to fit all the adverts on?
What`s worse is that it used to be that adverts were adverts but now as we have infomercials on the television, which in reality are nothing more than a 30minute advert, we also have PR led news, both in print and online news channels.
In both of the opposing articles put out on the same day re first time buyers, all of the quotes where from people with a vested interest in the housing market and not unbiased third parties. There weren’t any views or context from an independent head of economics at such and such university. There wasn’t any word from anyone who wasn’t trying to spin the story for their own self interest.
Perhaps we are becoming as disenfranchised in news as we are in politics because we know that there is all but no truth to what comes from them. But why is the media allowed to print veiled marketing messages masqueraded as news?
If celebs now have to state the reason they are talking/tweeting about a product is because they got a ton of it free why are PR driven brand messages allowed to infiltrate news? Surely this is more perverse as the news can have more of a profound effect on consumer confidence than what lip gloss Katie Price favours this week?
Is it just me or does anyone else remember the day when news was news and not just an opportunity to sell us stuff?