Leon from Ottawa asks, ”I listened to 7 of your podcast episodes in the past week. One thing that stood out to me was when you made the point about how the mainstream media sell sensational media. My question is Which news, info media resource outlets do you trust and read to get real info of what’s going on? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the podcast.”

Well, Leon, that’s a great question. I don’t profess to have all the answers on this one. It’s a huge topic. What I can say is that I do rely on multiple sources. I also try not to dive into topics where I have no expertise.

It’s easy to be opinionated on things. In fact, everyone has an opinion. That doesn’t make them an expert, nor are they qualified to offer an opinion.

So you won’t see me offering legal advice on the podcast. I’m not a lawyer. I might interview a lawyer and have them offer some ideas and education that could enable you the listener to have a dialog with your attorney on your specific situation. But that’s about as close as I would want to get on that topic in a public forum like this.

In terms of the news media, I’m also no expert on what’s real and what’s not. But I do have some first hand exposure to the news media and have witnessed the process first hand. I can offer a perspective from my vantage point.

I know several TV producers and have observed how they make decisions on what to air on TV. They have a specific time slot to fill on a daily show. The segments are anywhere from very short stories that form part of the news broadcast. This might be as short as 30 seconds. The second could be a special feature or interview that is between 4-5 minutes in length. The producer uses what is called a hook in the industry jargon. Unless people are watching, their sponsors won’t want to pay the dollars to advertise on the news show. Sponsorship is what funds the production of the show, so the producer can’t veer too far from topics that will keep viewers watching. Otherwise they’ll be out of business, and the producer will be out of a job. In a world of shrinking TV viewership and falling newspaper subscriptions, TV News programs are being cancelled and newspapers are shutting down all over North America. This is the stark reality.

So what is a hook? A hook is designed to draw in the viewer. Let’s imagine for a moment that you Leon were about to be interviewed on the morning show on real estate. The show host might say something like

Coming up after the break, Leon is going to be here to talk about how to make money in real estate. If I heard a hook like that, I’d probably change the channel. That sounds as boring as you know what.

On the other hand, if the show host said, And coming up after the break real estate expert Leon is going to be here to tell us that if you can’t afford to buy a house, you should in fact buy two.

Now that sounds intriguing. I’ll definitely want to watch through the commercial and wait for the next segment. When the host has a strong hook, viewers will watch the advertisement, and that is what the sponsors want.

So Leon you’ll go on the show and tell the audience that they should buy a duplex and use the rental income from the second unit to subsidize their home ownership cost. They may not be able to afford a single family home, but if there is an income property attached, the numbers could work in their favor.

So back to your question, which news media are trustworthy? The answer is it depends. I find that many stories in the Wall Street Journal are well researched and well written. But even they are not without bias. I find that the Wall Street Journal’s coverage of real estate is very weak. I prefer sources like the research team from Fannie Mae.

If there is a news story, I’ll often check several sources including the BBC, NBC, CNN and Fox. The coverage of the same story tends to vary widely.