Executive Summary: ‘news’ accounts – such as OZY Media’s so-called “Trailer House Nation” series – are damaging to the value of manufactured homes owners, to our industry’s businesses’ and to MH professionals. The time is nigh for pro-MH non-profits, home owners and for-profits to pull together to correct inaccurate media accounts, such as OZY Media’s. Doing so will protect billions of dollars in home values and will produce over time billions of dollars in new MH revenue annually.
The day might (or might not…) come when the Ishbel Dickens groupies decide they will join forces with savvy MH Pros in protecting and promoting the resale value of manufactured homes. Why? Because at the end of the day, the interests of MH Businesses and Associations ought to align with those of MH home owners, residents and consumers. Who says?
How about Randy Rowe and company, who created policies that grew their firm’s MHCs value to $1.32 billion dollars, while safeguarding the interests of home owners. Or Gary P. McDaniel’s led Yes! Communities, that do so many positive things to attract and keep their MHC residents happy.
Or how about the thoughts and deeds of Paul Bradley led ROC USA, who laments the lack of Cohesion in MH?
A number of forward looking association executives engage with home owner groups like Ishbel’s, try to work together where possible. Given examples such as these, perhaps my hope that sincere adversaries on issues as contentious as financing could have an “Aha! moment,” become allies…well, maybe its not so Utopian to think it could happen. Certainly it won’t ever occur without effort.
Knowing those groups read what we publish too, let me suggest that all have a stake in correcting the many misstatements made by any errant report, such as OZY Media in their report series, errantly dubbed Trailer House Nation (TrlrHN).
OZY Media’s Trailer House Nation series
Here is most of a posted comment on the Friday article in OZY’s TrlrHN series; noting that this comment was not ours in any form or fashion.
“While I am enjoying reading the articles, there is one thing that I must take exception to the mixing of apples, oranges and lemons.
A mobile home, at an average of 1300 square feet, is considerably larger than the 400 square feet of living space in the tiny house mentioned.
The pictures show an RV park and not what is typically considered a trailer park. The two parks are totally different both in appearance and in how they are viewed by the city/county government.
Finally, as has been mentioned before, living in a mobile home doesn’t have to mean that you are living in the stereotype mobile home…
…Wish these articles presented the subject in a little more balanced way.” – Pamela Wright.
Perhaps PW was being polite. Tom Fath expressed it more directly.
When we look at the volume of visits on our rebuttal article already, we know we’re not alone in thinking that OZY Media‘s TrlrHN series mixes facts, fiction and spin; to the detriment of MH home owners, MH businesses and other MH enthusiasts connected to or favorable towards our industry.
Ishbel Dickens at NMHOA and Doug Ryan at CFED; do you agree that MH Home owners are arguably being harmed every time ‘news’ like this from OZY Media goes out? Would blacks put up with being called the “N-word” by the mainstream media? Would Jews put up with anti-Semitic remarks? Why do MH Pros accept the errant use of the T-Word, as applied to MH?
As one black nurse told me on a recent Inside MH video road show, “I’m not trailer trash.” That nurse was proud of her home, loved her lifestyle. It is the polar opposite of what OZY Media projects. We’ll show her video on MHLivingNews.com in the days ahead.
Why should MH owners, business put up with that kind of implicit put-down, and numerous other errors in OZY’s report? Isn’t it high time that you, us and others who think long term stood up to defend the facts about our industry’s homes and our MH Home owners? Shouldn’t we proclaim with pride the lifestyles that allow millions to live better than they other wise would?
Graphic Credit: Trailer House Nation.
Sure, the OZY writers have the right to express their opinions. But no one, including OZY, have the right to their own facts.
It is a fact that federal law that made our homes Manufactured Homes, not trailers or mobile homes. Deliberately misnaming our brand of homes harms the values of all involved. An attorney explained to me last year, that in certain scenarios, media can be held liable for damages caused by errant reporting. We’ll look at that subject another time…
Graphic credit: OZY Media.
But the headline above contradicts the message Sanjena at OZY sent me, when she asserted their understanding about the use of the proper terms. What that implies is that Sanjena knowing took the step to ignore the call for a correction in reply to MHProNews concerns over the inaccuracies – including the T-word use – in their series. Clearly, their 5th article in their TrlrHN series suggests that MH should just go away. Is that her or their firm’s agenda?
Ishbel, Doug, do you see how that notion can only harm MH home owners values? Do you see how that will harm those MH owners you say you want to advocate on behalf of their interests?
If those kinds of groups won’t stand up against this – arm in arm with MH Pros – then look for the Factory Built Home Owners of America and other organizations to rise to those leadership roles. Nature abhors a vacuum, and NMHOA and CFED need to be wise in such cases, or suffer the loss of any leadership they might otherwise claim.
Anyone who has tracked the Tiny House facts, would know that their houses cost more per square foot than a modern manufactured home. Did you notice that the higher cost per square foot fact is glossed over by OZY in their Friday article? So is it surprising when other facts get overlooked or bypassed in their narrative too?
The New and Traditional Media – What Writers, Editors and Publishers Want…
When even the vaunted New York Times is struggling financially, clearly part of what the media wants is to be profitable. Don’t think for a moment that a New Media outlet, such as OZY Media, lacks interest in selling the goal of their product – eye balls and ads. That’s a given.
Some in media are willing to do all sorts of things to get eye balls that result in ad revenue.
Some of those ‘things’ might be akin to what Brian Williams is alleged to have done in embellishing stories at NBC News, which finally landed him in hot water and suspension from that network.
Serious journalists and editors want to get it right, or given a sometimes passionate perspective, as close to correct as their biases might take them.
It is self evident that poor terminology harms the home values of contemporary Manufactured Home (MH) owners. OZY Media’s deputy editor communicated that they knew the right terminology. So why did they repeatedly ignore it’s proper use – starting with their series title?
It is self-evident that negative stories harms the demand side of the MH equation, which in turn harms the value of MH home owners. Who will hold OZY to account for undermining the image and of 8.8 million MH homes and the lifestyles of their 20+ million residents?
Is the OZY agenda made evident by their 5th article, with the graphic above, in the TrlrHN series? Even the first article – which certainly tugs at heart strings – harms rather than helps MH owners. Why? Because readers who are uninformed can walk away with all sorts of misconceptions that harm interest, thus demand and thus the value of every MH.
So even the facts, when told without proper context can be unfair and damaging. Facts deserve to be framed properly, just like a good painting or photo needs a proper frame work. For example, the Saturday story’s video is filled with mournful music and ‘truth’s that are only part of the story. In a land lease, sure your costs rise. But they do with owned real estate too! Anyone at OZY ever hear about rising property taxes? Or did OZY consider that in an apartment your rents rise faster than in a manufactured home that is resident owned, and sits in a land lease?
OZY’s graphic above makes it sound liberating that the family featured was finally out of their ‘trailer park,’ but even their own video shows their housing cost tripled. Are they really better off?
That said, there are certainly journalists and editors alike who want both crisp prose that is accurate. Some actually want to tell a positive story, one that offers solutions for challenges like the crying need in the U.S. for quality affordable housing. We know from first hand experience that MH is filled with millions of potentially good stories! Here is one of them…
How brave and bold is OZY? Are they a little like the young school yard bully, looking for an easy target for sensationalism?
Let’s see if OZY is in a rush to do a Charlie Hebdo style tease about Islam or Mohammed. Or will OZY have a white writer start hurling the N-word toward blacks in America to grab headlines? Nah, I don’t think they will do any of those, do you?
So why are the leadership at OZY so comfortable denigrating MH via inaccurate and inappropriate T-word use, or slanting facts and copy in a fashion that harms the interests of millions of manufactured home owners? Do they think MH is an easy target?
I can’t say how their quality is on other topics, some say, good. But on this series, for me, the grade OZY gets for fair, balanced and accurate journalism in their “Trailer House Nation” series is a D. If OZY Media merged with the National Enquirer, would the tag line read something like this?
Face a Challenge with some Blow,
Keep facts straight? Who Would Know?
Grab a Drink, and Go, Go, Go…
Uniting to Act Positively on Behalf of MH Owners, Businesses and Professionals.
Next week, there are going to be some who will look up and perhaps go livid when they find the tables and spotlight turned on them. But frankly, the goal then will be the same as it is for us now with OZY Media.
We want to Spotlight the overlooked and misunderstood MH Realities, so that the truth is better understood, embraced and acted upon.
In a perfect world, OZY Media would act to retract or correct the record, not because they could potentially face class action litigation over their errant story series (again, a long explanation, better made another time). Rather, they should correct and retract as needed because it is the right thing to do, and harms the values of millions who need what MH offers.
In a perfect world, Isbhel Dickens, Doug Ryan et al would join hands with MH industry leaders, rank and file and go to the CFPB and say, pardon us, but the MH Industry’s lenders were correct. Personal property lending should be given the latitude the industry wisely seeks. Barney Frank said as much privately, and as his letter linked here suggests.
Standing up For Modern MH
We must define ourselves, or others will define us, often to our detriment.
We know from our site stats, that our report on OZY’s “Trailer House Nation” is already near the top of new articles being read. It is rising fast. That says you and others care. But the top new article being read speaks volumes too…
Be heard on this image/education/media subject! Isbhel, CFED, you too should ask OZY Media for corrections if you claim to care about MH owners!
Home owners, Industry Professionals, For and Non-Profits should pull together to stop negative, biased, stereotype based ‘reporting.’
With articles and videos like those being produced for ManufacturedHomeLivingNews, we are seeking to let those who know MH best be part of the positive defining process.
Some experts say that you can only push out a bad habit with a good one. Similarly, you can only improve a poor image by replacing it with a well-earned good image.
MH doesn’t have to be perfect to be a better option for tens of millions more potential home owners, all of whom need what we offer. Those millions of potential new MH owners should be in addition to the 20- 22 million who already enjoy the benefits MH provides.
This is a two front challenge. We must work to improve the image while combating those who dare besmirch it. You don’t win a football game without scoring points, defense isn’t enough. You don’t win in baseball, by allowing the other team to score all the base hits and runs. Defense and offense. Defend the image while building it up. That’s the recipe. That will benefit MH owners and businesses alike. ##
By L. A. ‘Tony’ Kovach.