'World News' Portrays Financially Overstretched Family as Underdogs
People love rooting for the underdog and it appears the media is no exception.
â€śKaren and David Shearon, working people who made less than $30,000 a year at the time, refused to be intimidated and fought foreclosure â€“ claiming the mortgage broker promised them a fixed-rate, low-interest loan on their $335,000 house,â€ť said ABC correspondent Jim Avila.
However, rather than exploring the possibility that the family may have bitten off more than it could chew,
â€śAt closing, they were presented with a high-interest package and balloon payments they feared they could not pay, but signed they say, under pressure,â€ť
According to the â€śhome affordability calculatorâ€ť on the National Association of Realtorâ€™s Web site, if average variables are applied â€“ a 5.6 percent interest rate (on the conservative end), 3-percent closing costs, a 5 percent down payment â€“ the most the Shearons should have been able to afford was a home for just under $93,000.
And even though there is a notification process in New York City, where a homeowner is given warning before a process server arrives, ABCâ€™s
â€śIt was a workday afternoon on Staten Island, when suddenly, the quiet of this blue-collar enclave was shattered by the frightening sounds of the dreaded process server,â€ť
Throughout the story,
The Shearons went to court and wound up being allowed to stay in their home, according to â€śWorld News,â€ť so
â€ś[T]hey did know enough to take the first step to saving their home from foreclosure. Get outside help. Don't negotiate with the bank alone,â€ť
â€ś[T]he little guys won,â€ť
In March, â€śCBS Evening Newsâ€ť used an atypical example of a homeowner that agreed to a mortgage with an 11-percent interest rate for its report on mortgage-crisis hardship. The stories are part of a larger trend of journalists using extreme examples in coverage of economic news.
ABC has been erratic with its stories involving consumer debt. According to a Business & Media Institute study, "Debt: Whoâ€™$ Responsible?â€ť ABC News was subpar when it came to the issue of personal responsibility. A segment from March 2006 downplayed the role of the consumer in taking on financial obligations.