Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Don't Give up on Beauty and The Geek

For the second day in a row, the Sentinel has a ridiculously overplayed front-page story. This time it's Tom Jicha's article about a merger between UBN and WB. It basically dominates the front page. Toward the top of Jicha's little masterpiece, we South Floridians get this this chunk of can't-miss news:

"UPN series such as Veronica Mars, America's Next Top Model, Girlfriends and the new comedy Everybody Hates Chris are strong candidates to make the cut. WWE Smackdown, UPN's two-hour wrestling show on Friday, is also expected to be part of the combined lineup.Probable WB holdovers include Gilmore Girls, Smallville, the new sci-fi series Supernatural and the comedy Reba. Borderline candidates include Everwood, One Tree Hill, the reality series Beauty and the Geek and the first-year series Related."

Rest easy, people, the Gilmore Girls will be saved.

How can that not be our Story of the Day?

Housing Frenzy
Speaking of ridiculously overplayed stories, when the Sentinel ran that huge headline on the front page yesterday, “More of us can’t afford home prices,” it sounded like deja vu.

Looking back at housing headlines in both the Sentinel and the Herald during the past year, it became terribly evident why. Some highlights from the research:

For the first few months of the year, all the stories were about prices “soaring,” “surging,” and “leaping.” Then all the sudden, on April 20, the Herald reports: “South Florida housing starts plunge.”

But that was only crap. Six days later, the Sentinel reported, “Home prices take another leap.” Five days after that, the same newspaper confirmed, “Housing stays hot.”

So that's good? Or is it bad? Later that month, on May 26, the Sentinel began hand-wringing: “The median price for resales is putting housing out of reach.”

That seems bad.

The next day, the Herald weighed in: “Housing prices raise concerns.”

Not to worry, though, on June 2, the Sentinel assured those with raised concerns that “Market May Be Peaking.”

Thank goodness, at least for those whose concerns had been raised. Oops. Sorry. That was crap, too. Four days later, the same Sentinel reported: “Dream out of reach, low-income people are left out as prices soar.”

But would the bubble burst? On June 22, the Herald seemed to think so. “Miami’s housing ‘bubble’ biggest in nation.”

Scratch that as crap. Six days later, the same Herald reported: “Bubble discounted by officials.”
The day after that, on June 29, both newspaper went back to crisis-mode. "Floridians’ incomes not keeping up with prices of homes,” said the Sentinel.

“Gap is between home prices, incomes,” the Herald told us.

I'd been wondering where that gap was.

Through August, there were numerous headlines about home prices “rising,” “sizzling,” and “soaring anew” from both newspapers. Headline writers really love the word sizzle, by the way. It’s an onomatopoeia, you know. Finally, on September 27, the Herald gave us the good – or bad? – news: “Home prices show sign of leveling.”

So ease your head. Nothing was going to burst. It would just level.

But that was, of course, crap. Five days later, the Sentinel told us: “$1 million doesn’t go far; with home prices soaring ….”

Hold on. Two days later the Sentinel came around, informing its readers, “Single-family home prices drop.”

So now it’s established. Both the Sentinel and the Herald have told us it's cooled off. Then came October 18. “Cheap homes vanish; a crisis looms,” the Herald blared.

Oh God, this isn't a boom, it's a crisis. But wait. On another page of the same newspaper on the same day, there is this headline: “Housing frenzy continues to boom.”

You see, one man's boom is another man's crisis, meaning it all depends on who's writing the headline.

Three weeks later, on November 13, the lagging Sentinel came around … again. "Affordable housing need is now urgent … crisis looming."

At least it was only looming. The next day, however, the Herald made it official: "Governments set to discuss laws to address housing crisis."

The crisis was here. On November 20, the Herald came out with: “Ouch! Cost squeeze tightens; rapidly rising prices are pinching South Florida consumers.” The next day, there was a story in the Sentinel about how “blended families” – I don’t know what they are, either – are finding the dream of owning a house “not easy to achieve.”

Which leads seamlessly to yesterday's giant headline on the Sentinel's front page -- “More of us can’t afford home prices.”

See, it all makes sense after all.

Posted just today on the Herald's website, no crap: "Home prices fall in Miami-Dade and Broward."


Anonymous Sam Eifling said...

Bob, the housing market is far too complex for you to mock with your collection of contradictory headlines. To help, here are some other stories I found to put things in perspective:

"Study: Houses are expensive," -- Sun-Sentinel, Feb. 18, 2002

"You can't afford your own home," -- Sun-Sentinel, May 30, 2003

"Two-hundred-fifty grand for two bedrooms west of 95? Yeah, and you'd better take it," -- Sentinel, Christmastime

"You're going to work harder than your frickin' grandparents did to keep a roof over your head," -- Herald, June 9, 2004

"Just think if you get sick and lose your job -- you're on the hook for $300,000, you fool," -- Palm Beach Post, late 2004

"Jesus, have you seen what homes cost in the third world? Sell! Run to Costa Rica! Live like a sultan!" -- Herald, last summer

"Upper class pays too much for second homes, turns middle class into lower class," -- Palm Beach Post, next Saturday

2:26 PM  

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