Sep 21, 2009

"We don't want it to look like there's an ad"

According to Oregon Media Central, the newest real estate reporter on Portland's KOIN-TV is a practicing real estate agent. Ron Pivo, the Realtor reporter, used to cover sports; now he makes balloon animal jokes and compares himself to Sanjay Gupta on CNN to downplay his conflict of interest. The station's news director assured viewers that Pivo's listings won't be featured in his reports.

Nothing says "trust us" like a disclaimer.

Apparently Realtors make great "hyperlocal" citizen journalists. In Seattle, Fisher Communications has launched a bunch of community blogs that will use real estate agents as news gatherers. Fisher's vice president of news had this to say:
We had the idea to work with Realtors because they drive around and they have cameras, and they do a lot of community work, obviously, with their jobs. The one rule that we have with them is that they can’t write about real estate. We don’t want it to look like there’s an ad. There’s been no money that has changed hands in this deal. When we were talking about what groups to reach out to for user-generated material, Realtors just struck us as a natural fit for that, because they are community-based.
Admittedly it is tough to find community-based people in a community who also drive around and have cameras, especially if you're looking for people with a vested interest in promoting themselves and local businesses and who also work for companies that buy lots of ad space.

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