A Lesson in Real Estate Journalism

Jonathan Dalton, Phoenix Real Estate AgentEarlier this month I wrote about a presentation Dr. Jay Butler made to the Arizona Real Estate Educators Association. Dr. Butler covered a wide variety of topics but spent a bit of time discussing the real estate markets in Maricopa, Queen Creek and the rest of Pinal County.

Apparently, an intrepid reporter at the Casa Grande Dispatch took notice of my article via a Google alert for Maricopa real estate. She took my post, sent it to Dr. Butler in whole for verification and then “expanded the story from there,” as she told me today.

What she didn’t do, however, was attribute my original post. I was at the meeting. She was not. And verifying the information with Dr. Butler doesn’t make him the primary source for the article. The source still was my post.

I was mentioned in the article (and thanks to John Wake for the link), but only in as much as my comments being mischaracterized to say Dr. Butler was a cheerleader for the real estate industry. That isn’t what I actually wrote. Such views usually are the purview of the real estate bubbleheads, subject to whether he agrees with their views on any given day.

Though I’m a little miffed at the liberally borrowed content (three paragraphs were re-used nearly verbatim), I find the genesis of the story to be more interesting, especially for those who still hold the ink-splashed grey ladies of print to be the paragon of journalism in America.

The reporter didn’t cover a speech. The reporter covered a blog post about a speech that I, a simple real estate agent in the Phoenix area, covered myself. If news happens and no one is around to report it, is it still news? Historically, no.

Thanks to the blogs, it’s increasingly likely someone will be there to write the report.

[tags]real estate reporting, real estate marketing, Phoenix real estate[/tags]

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at allphoenixrealestate.com.


  • Jay Thompson 10 years ago

    Traditional print media… *sigh*… they just don’t get it. To horribly misquote you, and then not provide proper attribution is…. well, it’s just plain lousy “journalism”.

  • Jonathan Dalton 10 years ago

    The attribution ought to have been for the story as a whole. At least that’s what we are taught from the days of the eighth grade term paper (if they even do those anymore.) Cite the source.

    Here’s a fun sidelight, though. Today I received a call from someone looking for land in … (drumroll) … Casa Grande.

    Just seemed entertaining at the time.

  • Athol Kay 10 years ago

    Does she have an editor you can talk too?

  • Jonathan Dalton 10 years ago

    Oh, yes … she did. I e-mailed him yesterday and he said he’s going to be looking into it.

  • Kathy L. Hall 10 years ago

    I am the “intrepid” reporter Mr. Dalton referred to and actually the editor of the Maricopa Monitor, where my story was orginally printed.
    In point of fact, Dr. Butler is the original source of the material and that’s why I sent him the article to ascertain whether this was a credible listing of his information, to which Dr. Butler did make corrections. Mr. Dalton simply listed what Dr. Butler said, without any original material as far as I can see, in the portions I extracted information from.
    If I had wished to hide the fact that the information was found through an online source I would not have revealed that fact in the article.
    All news stories can be the genesis of another one. My story delved further into the effects on Maricopa and Queen Creek. Dr. Butler’s comments were essential to the story, and yes, I found out about those comments through Mr. Dalton’s blog, but he doesn’t then have exclusivity over Dr. Butler’s comments. I don’t have to be there to hear them myself as long as Dr. Butler acknowledged they were his comments.
    Blogs and news stories from journalists often generate other stories. If I had used original material of Mr. Dalton’s I would have attributed it to him. That was not the case.

  • Jay Thompson 10 years ago

    Ms. Hall –

    I’m just curious…

    You wrote: “Jonathan Dalton, a Century 21 agent and real estate blogger, referred to Butler in his online review of his presentation as a cheerleader for the real estate market”

    When in fact, Mr. Dalton wrote: “What was most interesting is Dr. Butler usually is proclaimed to be a cheerleader for the real estate market and the real estate industry. But he appeared to have a fairly distinct, clinical view of the current market as one would expect from a statistician.”

    I don’t see, at all, where Mr. Dalton referred to Dr. Butler as “a cheerleader”. Can you explain how you saw it as that?

  • Jonathan Dalton 10 years ago

    After speaking to Kathy, we’re agreeing to disagree (at least that’s how I see it.)

    I can’t agree with the contention that this was not a news article in the truest sense. There would have been no newspaper story if not for the post because there would have been no record of the speech.

    I agree that I don’t have exclusive right over Dr. Butler’s comments. But I do have a right over my phrasing and there are three paragraphs where the wording from my post was left virtually unchanged – down to the use of a colon to set up a quote – a punctuation mark you find in journalism commonly.

    Dr. Butler has exclusive right to what he said and if he had a transcript for the speech or a press release, that’s a different issue.

    When I’m working a sporting event, I don’t have exclusive right to the events that took place. But I do have the right to what I write – my wording, phrasing and yes, the punctuation.

    What’s ironic is it seems that in the real estate blogs, the credit’s given almost automatically … a hat tip here, a link there. In some ways, there’s a higher standard here.

  • Sock Puppet 10 years ago

    “I don’t have to be there” journalism and writing a week and a half after it happened is called being a historian.

    She also did butcher Jonathans statement into a slow pitch she could hammer out of the park.

    I dare Kathy to edit the story to include the date of the meeting and the phrase “I wasn’t there, but…” as an opening sentence.