“It’s the manufactured housing industry’s other image campaign,” as Marty Lavin, JD, has called the mass media’s reporting on the manufactured housing industry.
The MHProNews often tries to bring other media or publication’s errors or misunderstandings and spin.
A recent example of this is the critique of an article out of North Carolina’s News & Observer, which poorly reflected data to look as though manufactured housing was more susceptible to damage during hurricanes than other types of housing.
Among a number of other messages, Daily Business News on MHProNews received an emailed link from a reader, in response to the award-winning Lavin’s latest article about communities.
That link was sent by a concerned MHC owner to a video/article published by OZY Media under the title “Trailer Park Nation” [sic].
That OZY Media tale told the story of a Louisiana MH Community being forced off their leased property.
As regulars to the Daily Business News know, the first error OZY made was in their title. Namely, using the term “trailer park,” [sic] rather than “manufactured home“ in the title of the story.
“It’s just as wrong to use the N-Word to describe a black as it is to use the T-Word to describe a manufactured home,” said MH advocate and actively retired businessman, the Rev. Donald Tye, Jr.
While talking about an older community in Louisiana where the land-leased property was being sold, OZY wrote – “nearly all of the nation’s 20 million mobile home [sic] dwellers are in a similarly precarious situation.”
The same was implied in their video, shown below, at about the 1:45 mark.
That statement for example, would incorrectly lead a reader or viewer to believe that most people who live in a manufactured home – which they incorrectly called “mobile home dwellers” – live in land-leased communities.
Not so, says community partner, Tom Fath.
On the contrary, as Fath pointed out in the comment section of the OZY article, around 2 out of 3 manufactured homes are placed on privately owned land, not in a land-lease community.
While there are a percentage of communities that are almost exclusively pre-HUD Code mobile homes – which could be called ‘parks‘ – they are the minority among the estimated 45,000 MHCommunities in the U.S.
Fath also made a point to mention that many states have created provisions that protect the residents of MH communities. MN and FL are among those states, as MHProNews has reported. That helps avoids scenarios like the one OZY features in their article and video series.
Fath also linked back to an MHLivingNews article that busts myths about manufactured homes being a fire hazard to dispel the myth that the OZY article was perpetuating.
Sad, Dark Music, Themes, and Manipulative Tones
“There are storytelling methods designed to manipulate people,” said L. A. “Tony” Kovach, publisher and award-winning MH Industry consultant.
“The OZY Media articles and videos are what we would call today, ‘Fake News.’ They distort information in a way that makes an exception appear to be the rule. PBS did this several times. Those distorted stories in turn harm the industry,” Kovach says.
“But due to the law of supply and demand, it also harms the values of millions of manufactured homes in the U.S.,” Kovach stated. “That’s among the reasons why MHLivingNews and MHProNews has for years placed rebuttal articles – fisking analysis – so that serious researchers will find the truth about manufactured homes and the millions of happy MH homeowners. That helps protect the industry, and protects home owners alike.”
“To my knowledge, MHI never did a rebuttal to that OZY Media series,” Kovach said. “By contrast, we asked several industry professionals – some of them republished on this report – that gladly gave thoughtful responses to the negative spin OZY placed on our industry and homeowners. When will MHI do the same?”
While some of the homes in the OZY series might have been pre-HUD Code homes, others were manufactured homes. They used the terms interchangeably, which a good journalist is not supposed to do. That skewed their articles and videos credibility, but only for those who actually understand or are told the distinctions.
It’s precisely this sort of “reporting” – with hand-picked, misrepresented data being twisted to appear to be something it’s not – that has caused a larger gap between people and their trust for the media.
“This type of “Selective Target Reporting” has a recent Harvard study saying 65% of Americans don’t trust the media. Gallup’s similar poll said only 32% trust the media now,” said Tye to MHProNews, adding the word, “Sad.”
While some of the claims in OZY‘s article and video might be factually accurate on that specific incident, their use of the terminology “mobile home” and “trailer house” [sic] was apparently, as Kovach noted, a method of manipulation and spin.
However, it was the way they represented the facts that provide a poor illustration of modern manufactured housing, and the communities where residents live.
As you can see from the video above, not all manufactured homes resemble the “mobile homes” of the past. Many could even be mistaken for conventional housing, like the man in the video above mentioned.
When publisher L.A. Tony Kovach reached out to OZY about correcting their errors and misleading statements, the media company had little to say in response, and made no changes. For more on the exchange between Kovach and OZY Media click here.
“Publishing hand-picked information can be worse for the impression it makes on manufactured homes and our industry than stating entirely false information,” said Brad Lovin, of North Carolina Manufactured Housing Association. ## (News, “fisking” = analysis.)
(Image credits are as shown above, and when provided by third parties, are shared under fair use guidelines.)
Submitted by Julia Granowicz to Daily Business News for MHProNews.