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Where Are The Journalists? PDF Print E-mail
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Everytime I read or listen to a story about the current mortgage crisis, I find myself yelling at the tv or laptop screen wondering where the standards of journalism have gone.

Is it ok to post a quote from a customer who is decrying your current business? What is that customer is also a competitor? Shouldn't their motives come into question? Shouldn't you be able to find another customer to quote, one who doesn't have a vested interest in painting the subject in a specific light?

The LA Times published a widely-linked story today about a run on Countrywide Bank due to customer fears perpetuated during the current mortgage situation. Included in the story was the following quote:

Bill Ashmore drove his Porsche Cayenne to Countrywide's Laguna Niguel office and waited half an hour to cash out $500,000, which he then wired to an account at Bank of America.

"It's because of the fear of the bankruptcy," said Ashmore...

The article then continues to point out that Ashmore is:

president of Irvine's Impac Mortgage Holdings, which escaped bankruptcy itself recently by shutting down virtually all its lending and laying off hundreds of employees.

What the article doesn't tell you is that Impac Mortgage Holdings is a competitor of Countrywide in a number of markets. Impac didn't shut down completely, and by all accounts hopes to return to business as usual once it can weather this storm. Don't you think that is important information for the reader? Don't you think it puts Mr. Ashmore's quote about a potential Countrywide bankruptcy in a different light?

A competitor, especially in this market, has every reason to try to paint a rosy picture of themselves and conversely a bleak picture of the competition. Where is the journalist who should be skeptical of this quote and look for another customer to feature instead? Do you honestly expect a spokesman for Burger King to say anything good about McDonalds? What makes this any different?

As an aside, I wonder how the "hundreds" of employees who Impac laid off feel about their former boss driving his Porsche to wire half a million dollars from one personal account to another. Just a thought.

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