Lenders blame the media

A foreclosure sign hangs in front of a home in Miami.

TEXT OF STORY

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: The nation's mortgage bankers say the news media's intense focus on the subprime lending crisis may be making matters worse. So the industry's association is adding $5 million to its advertising and lobbying budgets. The aim is to combat ill effects from what it considers distorted news coverage. Marketplace's Steve Tripoli has the story.


STEVE TRIPOLI: Association chairman John Robbins says news reports exaggerate the number of subprime borrowers who will lose their homes.

He says those headlines can really hurt the economy.

JOHN ROBBINS: They affect international markets, the purchaser of mortgage bonds. They obviously have a negative effect on real estate and real estate values. It influences public opinion in a very negative way.

Robbins worries that could push politicians to overreact.

Dean Starkman watches the business media for the Columbia Journalism Review. He says the bankers are exaggerating.

DEAN STARKMAN: Yeah, there's a lot of bad news in the mortgage business. I'm not sure I see where anyone's crossed the line, frankly.

That doesn't mean the media's off the hook. Starkman says journalists have a special responsibility on sensitive stories to not succumb to any bandwagon effect.

STARKMAN: One guy says subprime slump, the next guy says subprime crash, and the third headline is subprime implosion. You know, just make sure that that's supported, that's all.

I'm Steve Tripoli for Marketplace.

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