This article is the continuation of the “Investor Psychology” series of guides here on GoodPlace. If you have missed the first guide in the series, click here:- “Investor Psychology” Series: Beware Of These Two Deadly Mind Traps.
I’ve written this guide to help you develop a (healthy) suspicion for how the media portrays Malaysia property’s operating environment, and indeed to me, media bias is the biggest mind trap of it all when it comes to investor psychology. I shall explain how so in today’s article, and also to give you some pointers on how to overcome this bias.
Really, there’s a lot of truth in that old cliche: don’t believe everything you read. Now if you’re Malaysian, I don’t have to tell you that our country’s mainstream media is viewed with increasing suspicion and skepticism – especially when it comes to news and op-eds in the socio-political sphere. Newspapers and TV channels, in particular, are losing credibility (and many of them, readership), and Malaysians are increasingly going online to get their news (although these online channels also suffer from the same biases as their offline counterparts as you shall see later).
Of course, media outlets (both online and offline) have different thresholds when it comes to reporting integrity, but the thing you must be aware that they are all affected by some pretty strong biases. For the purpose of this article, I shall discount the very obvious influence of political entities (on both sides of the fence) on the coverage of socio-political news channels. We will focus on media as a business, and how it is inherently biased to produce reports and op-eds designed to confuse and mislead.
As a property investor, your success hinges on making correct, timely decisions, and as such, you must base those decisions on pristine and authentic information. As such, getting an investment idea “wholesale” from an article you read in the paper without a critical filter is just asking for trouble.
Media Bias: It’s More Harmful Than You May Have Imagined
Quote from American author and senator Al Franken: “The biases the media has are much bigger than conservative or liberal. They’re about getting ratings, about making money, about doing stories that are easy to cover.”
The first thing you must remember when you read a property review or some news of a new launch is that the news media is ultimately a business. It makes money selling advertising whose rates depend on the quality and quantity of its audience. Media channels completely depend on the size of the audience, full stop.
So how can a media channel boost its viewership (or readership)? Simple… by publishing sensational, hyped-up stories.
Sadly, as a consequence, our newspapers and TV channels are clogged with sensationalist news which have minimal value to the genuine investor who depend on those media channels for impartial information. I don’t want to come off as a conspiracy nut, but indeed you can’t help but to feel that there’s a hidden hand somewhere which decides who gets to know what.
Hidden Kickbacks & Moral Hazard
Now my greatest beef with the Gurus has always been the issue of “non-disclosure” – when they recommend a project, for example, they don’t tell you that they either do that honestly, or if they receive kickbacks from the developer. (That’s why their seminars are free to attend and their books at MPH are only RM20 a pop. They reel you in with a freebie or a cheap book, and then “sell” you at a much higher price later… to the developer). And you thought that the Gurus were doing what they would do out of the kindness of their hearts, or that they had “wanted to give back to the society.” *snigger*
Media, unfortunately, is afflicted with the same problem. Replace “Guru” with “Media” in the preceding paragraph and it still rings true.
As a media publisher, you don’t bite the hand that feeds (i.e. the advertiser).
Media knows that people like to read stories… ideally something which has all the trappings of a Hollywood blockbuster: (1) a hero, (2) a couple of villains, and (3) a damsel-in-distress. More often than not, news stories do NOT have all these components, and writers often had to “force fit” the participants into the story. For example, some may get demonized simply because baddies make stories fun and engaging. In short, facts are made to fit the narrative, and not the other way round.
If you have been reading GoodPlace for sometime then you would know that we have adapted this technique to make our content more interesting, i.e. the Goldie and Patrick series (see this). And this brings me to my next point…
GoodPlace = Part Of The “Conspiracy”…?
Now as they say: those living in glass houses shouldn’t be throwing stones. As the country’s number one ranking property blog (sez Google) with perhaps the most kick-butt subscriber engagement ever, and together with our sister sites KLCCcondominiums.com.my, KLCC.co and PropertyReviews.my, we reach some 40,000+ property enthusiasts in a month. Indeed, as we are fast shaping up as a major media channel for Malaysia property, chances are that GoodPlace is equally guilty for all the digressions that I have mentioned above. 😉
Of course, I would be an uber hypocrite of the highest degree if I would blow the lit on the others while I commit the same sins myself. Therefore, in the spirit of transparency, I shall be disclosing how I am monetizing GoodPlace so that my readers can confidently read my stuff and use my services without having to second-guess my independence and impartiality.
I will be writing up a full disclosure later, but for now here’s a short summary:-
- Developers may pay me for advertorials. These are marked as “advertorials” in the article, and inside the GoodPlace Digest.
- Agents may pay me to advertise their listings on GoodPlace Homes, or their services through the Dealmatcher.
- Agencies may pay me to develop specialized guides and research reports for their clients.
- I may get paid if you click on some ads on the sidebar (through the Google Adsense program).
Thank you for understanding.