Friday, January 5, 2007

Absolutely Shameless Pandering To Advertisers

Anyone whose ever read the predecesor to this blog knows full well that all the mass media outlets in Central Oregon are bought and paid for by real estate interests. Their largest source of advertising revenue is almost certainly real estate related industries of all stripes. But they also have an obligation to viewers/readers to maintain some sort of editorial independence. And for the most part, they succeed in schellacking a thin (very thin) veneer of newsworthiness over their RE stories.

Except for The Cascade Business News. Their pandering to real estate industry participants is utterly shameless. To wit, their featured story for the week: A Slowdown in Local Construction? Hardly.

This piece is just ridiculous. It takes the first paragraph and bashes anyone who predicted a slowdown in Cent OR RE:

For all those who forecasted a slowdown in construction in the high desert in 2006, we ask that you simply review the impressive list of projects completed this year throughout Central Oregon and then kindly toss your crystal ball.

Three major healthcare projects, including a state-of-the-art heart center, two new schools, a community auditorium and a public library, the largest building in the history of downtown Bend and even affordable senior housing were among the 2006 projects.

I am astounded that this publication is still in existence. That Pamela Hulce Andrews is still flogging the "Good Times In Real Estate Will Last Forever In Central Oregon" story isn't the least bit surprising, but the fact that they feel they need to denigrate anyone who has predicted otherwise illustrates in excruciatingly high contrast that stories are not written at CBN, but dictated by advertisers.

And the subject matter is an insult to reader intelligence. Anyone who can fog a mirror knows that The Bubble In Bend Real Estate Is Over. This isn't a stretch, prediction, RE bashing, or anything else of the kind. It's a simple, well-known fact, acknowledged by virtually everyone in the RE industry, and certainly by anyone trying to sell a house in the last 6 months.

But CBN has taken the tack that since 2006 was a good year for commercial construction, that right now, Jan 5 2007, ALL IS WELL. I wonder if CBN understands the real estate planning cycle. It's much like the human reproduction cycle... except longer, and probably less fun. A woman giving birth today, did not engage in the activity that led to that birth YESTERDAY. It was a long time ago. Similarly, buildings completed today, or even in Jan 2006, did not materialize out of midair from decisions made earlier today. No, these decisions were made months and years ago.

Pointing at the cranes downtown, and shrieking "SEE! ALL IS WELL! Your stupid predictions of a downturn are ridiculous!" is just insulting. Those cranes have been downtown longer than much of the population has lived here. Was it 2003? 2004? My Lord, this sort of "journalism" is utterly ridiculous.


Paul-doh! said...

Andrews has courageously declared that we can throw our crystal balls away, because her perfectly prescient ability to predict... THE PAST. She should have at least tried to present a fraud-ridden ability to predict the future by going to City Hall and pulling building permits.

People who predicted the end to the Bend RE bubble have been dead right. It's Over.

But CBN advertisers have essentially been dictating CBN content for years:

"Listen Andrews, you're going to run an All Is Well piece on RE NOW! I don't care that it's common knowledge that it's over, and that your little business rag will lose all credibility. I've got square footage to lease & sell, and Everybody Happy stories need to be running 24/7 so I can sell this fish oil to these brain dead equity zombies!"

Anonymous said...

It's not like anybody with a brain can't see that most of the stories in CBN are advertorials anyway.

Did that rag EVER have an credibility?

IHateToBurstYourBubble said...

What's sad is that we can and should do better. A Bend Business publication with a modicum of independence would be awesome. CBN has this thinnly veiled contempt for its readers: That first paragraph just screams: "Listen up, you morons! Not only do we think you can't look around and figure it out for yourselves, but we're going to TELL YOU to stop trying! We'll tell you whats what. You idiots trying to figure out what's happening? Please! You've been dead wrong for years, and will continue to be wrong forever!"

That's what really got my goat on this one. Read between the lines, and it basically insults the readers intelligence, and tells them they don't have the intelligence to think about, much less attempt to predict the economic vagaries of the real estate market.

Even more insulting is Andrews basically uses specious reasoning, by looking at projects completed in the past 12 months as a Predictor Of The Future! Idiotic.

Jon said...

Yep, with CBN, advertisers running the show is basically the deal; you buy ad space, you get to write articles for it. Back when I was working for a web development company I even wrote a few techie articles myself for CBN--because we were advertising in it, of course. The ones I wrote were just filler fluff pieces, but there's been some egregiously bad promo pieces in there.

Anonymous said...

As my dear wife says, "Hindsight is 50-50." More likely, all these people saw an unfilled market and all applied at once to fill it. This will be a VERY quiet year, if Beaverton/Hillsboro is any indication. Do you know that 80% of Hillsboro's office space was VACANT in 2002?

Paul-doh! said...

CBN is like a movie critic that gives Every Single Movie 2 HUGE THUMBS UP! OK, if you LOVE every single thing you see, you provide Zero Information. No one can discriminate anything about anything you're talking about. Seriously, If Ebert & Roeper gave Every Single Movie "2 Big Thumbs Up!", how long would you listen?

I've got no problem with CBN falling in love with every construction project in Bend, but Andrews has crossed over into The Prediction Business. And she's one of those people who looks out the rear view mirror as some sort of proof of her "predictions". Plus she is whaling on the Predictive Powers of her readers, and touting her own as superior. I mean, how contemptable is that.

Even pulling building permits for to-be-built projects IS NOT predicting anything. It's Reading. Predicting is actually making educated (usually) guesses about things THAT HAVEN'T HAPPENED YET & ARE NOT PLANNED. I feel kind of strange having to state such a thing... but we are talking about CBN...

IHateToBurstYourBubble said...

And I read your stuff in CBN Jon... that was one of the precious few things worth reading. That was good stuff...

Bend Economy Man said...

My favorite line from the article is

"Slowdown? There certainly doesn't appear to be such a thing in the high desert. Also, keep in mind that the biggest and most ambitious project in the history of Central Oregon-Deer Ridge Correctional Institution-is set to open in early 2007."

I think this might be the first time in Oregon history that the pending construction of a state prison is cited as evidence of a region's high ambitions.

I think that CBN is currently in a "transition phase" where it goes from being a pay-to-play Chamber of Commerce rag, to a local economic pep squad, with a view to becoming a more-or-less serious review of local business when it feels it can make that move. When CBN blows smoke up the town's ass, I consider it relatively harmless in comparison to when it's done by KTVZ News or The Bulletin, which are managed and staffed by professional journalists.

MX Oregon Fart said...

Why is the bend bulletin board always down?

If it is a replacement for bendbubble, then why not have a replacement that works?

Jon said...

You read my stuff in CBN? Wow, that must have been at least 5 or 6 years ago... you sure you're remembering the right Jon? ;)