NOTE: Inman News has COMMENTED on this post and it materially affects my commentary. As I stated at the beginning of the post when I made it, my opinion of this relies on the accuracy of what Lani posted. Inman News has contradicted several of the points that she made in her post.
Ok. I am going to couch what I am about to say on a couple of things.
#1: I am relying on the fact that this report on AGBeat is accurate. I believe it to be so. I have known Lani Rosales for a number of years and respect both her reporting and commentary on the real estate industry.
#2: I am taking for granted the fact that REALTORS do NOT understand the complicated financial arrangements that often take place between Vendors, “Journalists”, and Marketing folks inside of an industry such as the residential real estate brokerage industry.
Ok. With that said. Brad Inman asked Industry Leaders to take a stand. While he was CLEARLY on the side of agent data, he was clearly out of line (in my opinnion) for not disclosing that he had an ownership interest in a competitor product to AgentMatch. I have no idea if I am an industry leader. I would like to think NOT. But I AM willing to take a stand. When it comes to ALL of the people clamoring for TRANSPARENCY in OUR industry, it has long been my contention that they would not stand for a minute under the same microscope.
Brad Inman is no different. In Lani’s post on AGBeat, she clearly describes a number of instances where Inman News, referred to hereinafter on this blog as Inman Advertorial, tells the industry his position and writes “news”. She articulates that his position was seemingly designed to insulate a company that Inman HAS a stake in, along with Google Ventures, while the Move, Inc. product was catching all of the grief.
OF COURSE Brad wants everyone in the real estate industry to support Agent Match and other agent ratings sites. He apparently owns a piece of one. (For the record, I do NOT have an ownership stake in one now, nor will I .) C’mon, Brad. How about some doggone TRANSPARENCY?? Seems pretty hypocritical that you want to go after agents with your standards that everything should be totally transparent. Meanwhile you are apparently having your marketing arm and your news arm cozily in bed together STEERING the industry in a direction that financially benefits YOU?? WTHeck? Is this what it appears to be?
So I am taking a stand.
How about Inman News (Advertorial) applies the same journalistic standard that OTHER news organizations have. Better yet, how about they apply the transparency that they require of REALTORS. To wit:
- When Inman News (Advertorial) or Brad Inman have any financial holdings in a company. For transparency’s sake how about that be disclosed much as NBC Universal and the other major news and business news channels do.
- When Inman News has a MAJOR advertising / marketing agreement, in my mind we can no longer trust them to be objective in their reporting. (this is my opinion). For transparency’s sake how about these relationships being disclosed to make sure that REALTORS, Google, and others understand that it is likely an advertorial relationship or at least COULD be such rather than an objective news report. When Brad Inman PERSONALLY uses Inman News to TAKE a STAND on something that will undoubtedly in my mind benefit his investments, those investments need to be disclosed.
And I am taking another stand.
I want to send Kudos for Lani and Benn at AGBeat for having the courage to report this in light of the fact that Inman News is a powerful force in the industry. They couched it carefully, but the implication is clear. Brad was NOT being a journalist, and while it COULD (I guess) have been repeatedly unintentional, going forward that needs to change.
Yes AGBEAT has advertisers as well. When they first started Agent Genius, I chimed in with the rest of folks back in the day about advertorial relationships. To their credit: Yes, I think they have tried, where possible to disclose their relationships. No one is perfect, but they have made far more of an attempt at a reasonable separation of the Editorial room and the Advertising sales department and disclosed where possible the potential conflicts.
That said, perhaps what is needed going forward is a source of actual reviews and ratings that ARE NOT FUNDED nor OWNED by Vendors. Full disclosure. I MAY WELL invest in one of those types of companies. Brokers and Agents NEED CLARITY, not more advertorials.
I personally, have had enough of the same people simultaneously:
- Telling us how untransparent REALTORS are.
- Telling us to visit their trade shows
- Filling those trade shows with Advertorial content from Syndicators, Vendors, and every other person who wants into the REALTOR’s pocket
- Telling us Industry News (ostensibly OBJECTIVE news).
- And telling us we should disclose how we are paid, when they do not disclose how THEY are paid.
I think it is time that in this industry, if we cannot be objective AT LEAST the VENDOR / PROMOTER cozy little relationship should be TRANSPARENT.
What do you think?