“We need to get these people out” of that “mobile home park. These homes are going to go up in flames,” said Shannon Handy, a reporter for CBS8 Local in California, near the end of the video embedded below.
The male co-anchor of CBS8 Local makes the more correct statement after Handy’s, but it is at the end of the video. Namely, that the fire will take everything in its path.
But for about 4 minutes, the viewers are treated to the tragic scene of dozens of factory-built homes that were burned down.
Beginning with their headline, their written and video news item was an emotionally-charged report, which tended to make the “tightly packed” “mobile home park” – their words – look bad.
With dozens of those homes burned down to their frames, there is no visual evidence to help determine if the homes were indeed pre-HUD Code mobile homes or post June 15, 1976 safety standards manufactured homes.
But as a careful read of their own story stated, or what the male anchor closed with said, any house in the path of that firestorm being swept along by Santa Ana winds are at risk. Hundreds of site-built houses have been lost recently in similar blazes.
Had these units been condos or apartments – far more tightly packed than any manufactured home community – those would have been equally charred ruins, for the reason that the male anchor stated. The fire doesn’t discriminate.
They go over 3 minutes into the video before you see that some of the homes survived. That’s certainly a potential issue, per the SPJ code of ethics standards.
So how is it accurate reporting for local media to hype the tragedy of those so-called “mobile homes?” Did they check with the community’s management for any details? If so, there is no hint of that in their video.
There was also no clue in the CBS8 Local story that today’s manufactured homes are safer against an interior fire than conventional housing, per the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report that’s a download within the linked story below.
So as affordable housing is in crisis – most notably in California – what takeaway would someone listening to that report have, if they were considering a manufactured home? What does that do to the resale value of existing manufactured home owners?
It Is Not a One-off News-Story, It’s Part of a Pattern…
2017 isn’t quite done. We are now into the time of year for increased home fire risks.
Its obvious to an informed manufactured home professional that these Google searches that follow are skewed. There’s only been a fraction of that number of pre-HUD Code mobile home, and post-federal-code manufactured homes, built.
But would a rushed reporter know that, as they are trying to form some basis and context for their reporting?
With many mainstream media outlets laying off staff – due in some measure to the increased competition from Google and Facebook for ad revenues – and a near perfect storm is emerging that impacts media, and those topics that the news is reporting.
Fewer reporters are trying to get stories out, and they may not always be doing the same level or quality of research.
As you look at these literally millions of fire related stories under the “mobile home fire” Google searches, keep in mind that some stories are covered by multiple media outlets, or are shared via social media, etc.. No one will go through 55 million results. There are likely other fires, like a ‘mobile phone’ that caught ‘fire’ while someone is at ‘home.’
But would the rushed reporter or editor consider those possibilities?
Or will they rely on bias and stereotypes – quickly reinforced by a problematic and shocking Google search result – like the two screen captures shown above?
Then consider what MHI award-winner, Marty Lavin said about the industry’s “other image campaign.”
With that context, industry professionals should be mindful that the Ohio Manufactured Home Association (OMHA) fought a long campaign that was ultimately unsuccessful over what their Governor John Kasich (R-OH) inaccurately termed the increased dangers that come from fires. Even though their home owners association sided with the industry, OMHA still was unable to carry the day due to heavy political spin.
In hindsight, the industry may see why the OMHA’s battle was far more important nationally than one might believe. Because Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) spun the matter as ‘how unsafe this form of factory built housing was,’ and that justified the ‘need for more regulation.’
Sharing articles on MHLivingNews like the one below, which sites third-party research, and cites a fire official, can only help.
Avoidable Tragedies! Mobile Home Fires vs. Manufactured Home, and Conventional Housing – manufacturedhomelivingnews.com
Every unplanned, uncontrolled fire outside of a fireplace, grill or pit is often a story about tragic injuries, deaths and/or property damaged or destroyed. A recent fire reported in Champaign County, Ohio, was no different.
The report linked below published earlier today about responding to problematic mainstream media reports comes into greater focus in the light of such mostly negative media coverage.
There are 2 and only two choices when it comes to addressing the issue of bad news that hits your market(s).
- Do nothing, and hope it blows over.
2) Or do something. See that clarifying report, linked above.
It should be simple, and obvious.
The only way to drive out bad information, is with good information that’s routinely repeated. “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (News, fact checks, analysis, commentary.)
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Submitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.com.