May 4, 2008

The Front-Page Fifteen Minutes

Justin Katz

I'm not in the least disputing the Martins' relevancy as a representative human interest topic (and my family would certainly not be so comfortable broadcasting personal financial information). Still, the Providence Journal's front-page profile of the family makes me curious about the genesis of the report. Did Journal Staff Writer Lynn Arditi advertise online for potential subjects? Does she know the family?

What stands out is the lack of general statistics or broad reportage, using the specific family as a point of reference. The story is constructed as if the family itself is of interest for some reason.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Lynn Arditi could have profiled a Gay family (a same sex couple with 2 kids)

Then you cold have protested, that there is no such thing as a "Gay Family"

Posted by: Rob at May 4, 2008 5:41 PM

But she didn't, and I wouldn't have. I would, however, have wondered why that particular gay family.

Posted by: Justin Katz at May 4, 2008 5:47 PM

Man, you gotta love this insightful, inquisitive reporting: "The monthly payments on their four-bedroom Dutch Colonial, which they bought in 1995 for $114,000, had climbed from $740 to $1,700."
You have to love the way Arditi (and all the media) sails right over things like this, without the slightest hint of an intellectual curiosity as to how these things happen. Nope, they are all too busy focused of how to make the story as tear-jerk as possible.

Now how could the mortgage payment skyrocket like that? Is there something we are not being told, like they refinanced 2 or 3 times and took cash out of their house and now we are all supposed to feel bad for them? Even allowing for an increase in taxes, by my calculation these people have taken out at least $100,000 in equity from the house.
Maybe if they didn't do that things wouldn't be so tight right now.

Posted by: Mike Capelli at May 4, 2008 7:59 PM

Over the past year, I've increasingly questioned my $260+ per year outlay for the ProJo. Its admirable that this family is economizing where possible. If only our state legislators would do the same. But. But. But this is not front page news. It is important and belongs in some sort of appropriately named lifestyle/home economics section. Some similarly useful information is often entombed in the business section where I'd guess many people who could use it will not venture. More than half of today's front page real estate is given over to this article (the majority of that the picture) and the home makeover. Maybe we could have some pix of puppies, kittens and bunnies, too.

The ProJo front page should have national and international news. Locally, they should concentrate every day on political cronyism, conflict of interest, corruption and criminality. How about a historical political police blotter? Question of the day: name the last Speaker of the House who left public life without a hint of scandal, or an investigation or an indictment? People need to be reminded daily of the questionable actions of our political class.

ps - don't get me started about Bakst's or Harrop's efforts either.

Posted by: chuckR at May 4, 2008 10:03 PM

"Even allowing for an increase in taxes, by my calculation these people have taken out at least $100,000 in equity from the house."

Sounds about right, some seed money for the Help U Sell franchise (between 20-30k), various home improvements, new pool and patio, who knows how much in credit card bills for eating out constantly... My question is why would sad sacks like this WANT their lame story splashed across the front page of the Sunday Journal??

Posted by: jd at May 4, 2008 10:13 PM

It's so poorly written and irrelevant that the cynic in me wonders if it's a conscious attempt by the author to portray this as the epitome of "struggling white Rhode Island"...

Posted by: JP at May 5, 2008 9:11 AM

Who among us hasn't made a bad financial decision or two? And I'm not an accountant (just the son of one).
But this story shows that people who thought they were getting ahead (and God knows, the people in power in mid-decade told us times were booming) aren't. They're having to downsize their lives a bit because the boom times came to an end (as are many other folks in the middle class).
Instead of reaping scorn and others' superiority complexes, these people deserve credit for sharing their pain and their mistakes to help others avoid them.

Posted by: rhody at May 5, 2008 11:28 AM

"Instead of reaping scorn and others' superiority complexes, these people deserve credit for sharing their pain and their mistakes to help others avoid them."
Oh, is that what you think this is - this is a lesson for us all? Nice try. We all know what it is. It is some stupid liberal tearjerk story meant to portray every idiot that runs into hard luck as some kind of victim.
It is the same thing in every story you read about people losing their houses. They weren't stupid - they were victims. The problem is so many of them took out more mortgages in the last few years than most peole do in a lifetime, that they not only weren't taken advantage of - they were experts at the craft. They just never figured on one thing - the music stopping. Well, welcome to the real world.
I say let them suffer the consequences of their stupidity. Don't come asking me to bail their sorry asses out. I got my own stuff to deal with and there is no room for theirs.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at May 5, 2008 5:40 PM

Mike, there you go again, waving the liberal bloody shirt. Doesn't your arm get tired after awhile?
If there's anything in that story that indicates these people are liberals, please point it out. For all of us, no matter the political persuasion - I don't think any of us have found that kind of evidence yet.

Posted by: rhody at May 6, 2008 1:06 PM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Important note: The text "http:" cannot appear anywhere in your comment.