Agenda Journalism

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We media types tend to be news junkies. CNN, the New York Times, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, we devour them all, all the time. We become especially attentive when the breaking story is about the business of the news. The story of the last few weeks made all of us in business-to-business media and certainly the general news outlets stop and pay still closer attention.

March 01, 2005

We media types tend to be news junkies. CNN, the New York Times, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, we devour them all, all the time. We become especially attentive when the breaking story is about the business of the news.

The story of the last few weeks made all of us in business-to-business media and certainly the general news outlets stop and pay still closer attention. A new type of reporting and telling the news of the day has been the news of the day. Agenda journalism, as it has been dubbed by the pundits, comes when members of the media accept payment to promote a point of view, when a favored member of the White House press core turns out to be less reporter than and more paid political hack.

In these instances specific individuals set aside the basic tenant of journalism — to tell the facts without influence — and in doing so delivered a black eye to ethical journalists everywhere, and more, called into question journalism itself.

Sounds like this editorial should be in Editor & Publisher rather than Professional Builder? Not really. It's the right topic at an important time for one simple reason — the residential construction industry needs to create an agenda and tell the story of housing to members of the media, members of Congress and to local legislators. Doing so now can create an entirely new definition for agenda journalism — the right one done the right way.

However, more importantly, an aggressive information campaign can help accomplish the following:

  • Save federal funding for housing programs vital to the industry, critical to those in need and the bedrock of who we the American people the say we are. Protecting funding for programs like the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH), for funding mechanism
  • Put housing back on the national agenda. Interestingly, the success of the residential construction industry in recent years knocked it off the political priority list and pushed it to the back of the country's agenda going forward. The multi-year housing boom has pushed home ownership rates to record levels and housing production to the same.

NAHB executive vice president Jerry Howard says its this way: "It's time to play ball with the 109th Congress." Howard made his comments when announcing an NAHB advertising campaign that will culminate on April 13 with a one-day blitz on Capitol Hill by more than 700 builders attending the association's Legislative Conference in Washington.

"After back-to-back record-breaking years for homeownership rates, new housing production and home sales, it is understandable why housing is not at the top of the agenda for some members of Congress," Howard adds. "But the job of housing America is far from over."

To meet the housing demands of a growing population, estimates suggest we will need to build 18 million new homes and apartment units over the next decade. To meet that challenge will require more than the land and labor to build. It will require strong support from Congress on a wide range of federal policies:

  • Creative funding and financing opportunities to help make home ownership a reality for working Americans — teachers, police officers, firefighters and other moderate-income workers who are the heartbeat of any community — still unable to afford a basic, decent place to live.
  • Innovative solutions to remove regulatory barriers driving up prices of new homes and limiting supply. Housing is the most highly regulated industry in America. Wetlands legislation, endangered species legislation, all well intended, affects housing, affects land distribution.

In it's housing first campaign, NAHB's head of advocacy efforts Bill Killmer says that NAHB will ask lawmakers to "step up to the plate" and take a pro-housing stance on legislation that could expand homeownership opportunities for working Americans and increase the supply of affordable rental housing.

This campaign isn't about politics — Republican or Democrat — but about an industry fundamental to our American way of life. Your voice matters in a campaign — in a fight for the future — that matters. Use it.

Heather McCune, Editor-in-Chief

630.288.8190

hmccune@reedbusiness.com

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