Why the Media May Not Report Good News

J Philip Faranda March 27, 2009

Catalog this as one of those phone calls you don’t get every day.  

“Call this woman,” my wife roared on my cell phone. “She wants to put you on TV!”

Skeptical at first, but not wanting to ignore possibility, I called the lady. It was legit. She was a producer for one of the major network news programs and they wanted to interview an agent and a buyer who closed in February of 2009. Evidently, the number of homes sold last month was up, and an anchor you all know was going to ask the buyer and agent a few questions for that evening’s national broadcast. 

I actually had the perfect buyer. I called him and explained the opportunity, and within minutes everything was set up. A news van with reporter and camera crew was leaving Manhattan for his home and I headed up myself. It was a huge opportunity for exposure for my company, and even on a day when I had 2 closings scheduled for that afternoon, the place to be was on my client’s lawn in front of a camera and mic. 

Until, en route, my client called me back. He apologized profusely, but he had to call the producer and cancel. He explained that layoffs were coming to his company and that going on TV might not be a good idea. I was surprised and disappointed, but I couldn’t twist his arm. I called the producer back to apologize myself, and she asked if I had anyone else. Encouraged that she hadn’t given up, I told her I’d call her back in 5. We’d have to widen our criteria, but I could hook her up with a recent buyer or seller. She was game.  

While driving back to closing number 1, I called the agent for a buyer that closed on one of my listings last week. They couldn’t leave work early. At the closing, my seller’s attorney advised her not to go in front of a camera (another reason to hate attorneys). It was an emotional closing for her, but she was a grown woman and could handle herself. I couldn’t argue, though. The purpose of closings is to close, not recruit.  

Down the list I went, calling the producer between each call as 4pm approached. My last shot was at closing number 2, a seller client I have blogged about before who was still moving out of his home in the hour before title transferred. A veteran of the 2nd World War, he’d make a great interview. Unfortunately, he had to meet someone to arrange for his new home as soon as the last box was packed and he wouldn’t be available until 4:30. 

All in all, 5 possible interviews, and 5 declinations. The peculiar thing was that with the exception of my last ex-marine, the others either flatly declined or stood by reasons that a more eager person might overcome. People either don’t want to discuss their business on air, buck the trend, or both. And this was supposed to be a positive piece of news! 

I am disappointed, but not discouraged. The producer told me she’d found me on the Internet after doing a common search term for an agent. Given that I am in New York of all places and that I came up first in her Google search, I am gratified. She’ll keep me in mind if she needs a real estate source again, which is also very good. 

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, there is good news out there, and the media does want to report on it. It is hard when you can’t get someone to interview, but clearly they aren’t just leading with the bleeding. People do not want to put their own faces on the good news for various reasons, perhaps because they might seem unfeeling toward their less fortunate friends, co-workers or neighbors and you can’t force them. The report went on, albeit without an interview, and that is to the network’s credit. 

So, if you wonder where the good news is, it might be because it wants to stay quiet. 

Keep blogging, folks. It might just restore confidence in this economy and speed the recovery. 

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