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The Listening Project

September 2009 - Economy

The September survey focused on regional economy; specifically, respondents were asked their thoughts about the past year’s mortgage crisis. Questions also focused on “Facing the Mortgage Crisis,” ideastream’s on-going coverage of the failing housing market.

Below are the seven questions from the September survey, and selected responses. There were 181 people who participated in September’s questionnaire.

Question #1
Have you seen and/or heard any of ideastream’s regional economic coverage this summer?

September Question 1

Many participants expressed a positive view of ideastream’s economic coverage in the open-ended response:

“Excellent job, objective reporting.”

“I appreciated the knowledge.”

“Good, it brings it home to us how others in the area are faring.”

“Keep the information coming. Lots of great information.”

“So far, so good. I like that you look at aspects of the crisis that I wouldn’t have considered, and that you take the time to educate people about getting out of debt/mortgage trouble.”

Other respondents leveled some criticism of the coverage:

“In general I think WCPN does a better job of covering the local economy than any other local news organization. However, I think the station needs to take on an advocacy role. Crusade for the best ideas. Get buy in from politicians and business leaders. Back in the old days, news media used to take on causes. Why not now?”

“ideastream is trying to be nice to the entities - Banks, Investment Bankers, GOP legislators, and their policies that created the crisis in the first place. Ideastream, though, is way better than anything on radio or TV - or say, Rachel Maddow, Ed, Bill Moyers/Maher, Jon Stewart and Colbert. But you have to be more direct.”

“Keep a balanced political view, please.”

Question #2
Have you been personally affected by the local mortgage crisis?

September Question 2

Nearly 4 in 10 respondents were affected in some fashion by the local mortgage crisis. Here is a sampling of the open-ended comments from this question:

“We closed on our first home a few weeks after the massive stock market bottomed out last October. First time home buyers who buy homes the “traditional way” (saving up for a down payment and then buying a modest home within their means) actually have an advantage and some leverage.”

“I never realized that there were that many crooks out there.”

“I’ve never missed a payment and now, because of this crisis, while I’m close to retirement and selling to move to retire elsewhere I cannot get near what I should in dollars.”

“The economic problems are not all mortgage crisis—bottom line—people over-leveraged themselves, and lived outside of their means. Yes, there was, in some cases, mortgage terms that were not simple, but its either pay me now or pay me later - bottom line. The lack of jobs and companies cutting back/laying off accelerated the problem.”

“My thoughts are mixed. People should not have bought a house they couldn’t afford and lenders should not have pushed people into more than they could afford or just rubber-stamped the loans. I think the banks should work with folks to keep them in their homes but not give them a free-ride. Don’t reward people for being irresponsible, but don’t make them homeless. It took both sides screwing up to make the mess.”

“Sometimes I wonder if I will be able to keep up the payment in these times. Money is not guaranteed in this economy. To have to decide whether you will eat or pay the bills in not a good thing to have on your mind as you get older. You think you are set and in a second it is gone.”

“I am unable to modify my mortgage after our household income declined by over 50% since November 2008. We have been making our mortgage payments on time despite all this -but fear what is up ahead.”

Question #3
Which of the following statements do you believe is most accurate?

September Question 3

Just over half of the participants believed the state of the mortgage crisis remained the same over the past year. Of the remainder, more respondents believed the crisis was getting better.

Here is a sampling of responses from the “Other” category:

“Banks have been given the money from the Federal government, but are not loaning it out for people to buy homes. How can this be allowed to continue to happen? The banks should have to return the money given to them.”

“We keep hearing about the “toxic assets” - but never hear if the volume is decreasing due to either renegotiated loans or just write-offs. We hear that foreclosures are still an issue - is that increasing the problem, or part of the original problem? No real data to understand the situation.”

“I think it’s the same, and since I haven’t seen any ‘grass roots’ efforts to change the way business is done at the personal level regarding mortgage lending and acquisition, I think our problem’s not over. A simple rule would have prevented all of this: Have enough $$ in the bank for 30% down and 6 months of payments in case of an emergency. That way, the prospective homeowner would be better aware of his own financial situation rather than allowing the lender to determine it for him.”

“I think we’ve hit the bottom, but things won’t start turning around until employment numbers start to improve.”

Question #4
Have you seen and/or heard any of ideastream’s special coverage this summer, entitled “Facing the Mortgage Crisis?”

September Question 4

“Facing the Mortgage Crisis” examined the causes and effects of the housing market failure in Northeast Ohio, while providing a starting point for those who needed help with their own mortgage situation.

Here are some comments from participants regarding the “Facing the Mortgage Crisis” series:

“I only wish I could listen to all the coverage you present!”

“Because of the show, we refinanced our house. If it wasn’t for this show, we would still be fighting with the bank.”

“For some it was too late.”

“Capitalizing on people’s fears about the economy instead of teaching them the pitfall of compound interest.”

“You’ve done a good job of clarifying issues.”

“I cried.”

Question #5
Have you used any of the following online economic resources, available on ideastream’s web sites (ideastream.org, WCPN.org, and WVIZ.org)?

September Question 5

While 61% of respondents had seen or heard “Facing the Mortgage Crisis” programming on WVIZ/PBS and/or 90.3 WCPN, 80% had not used any of the online resources available as part of the coverage. This could be due to a number of issues, including inadequate promotion of the availability of the online resources or respondents’ declared lack of need of such resources.

Question #6
Did you see and/or hear mentions of the United Way’s 2-1-1 service, a special telephone hotline for mortgage questions?

September Question 6

Just over half the participants were aware of ideastream’s promotion of the United Way’s 2-1-1 service, a phone hotline dedicated to providing assistance in personal financial crisis situations. Promotion of the 2-1-1 service had an extensive presence in the “Facing the Mortgage Crisis” materials, both on-air and on the ideastream web sites.

Here’s a sampling of the open-ended response to this question:

“I have been hearing about it just about every day on WCPN! Matt Zone’s and Steve Wertheim’s voices are etched forever in my mind!”

“I can only hope they’re giving good advice. There’s too much bad advice out there and too many people still don’t have very good radar for scams.”

“Good, but wonder if the folks who need the help are CPN listeners (or other public radio listeners for that matter) maybe I’m educationally biased but as a former social worker, I never heard a client say they heard something on NPR.”

“I appreciate having the resources at hand. If I am ever directly impacted or know someone who is, I’ll know where to turn.”

“I think it’s important to keep broadcasting the 211 messages because people look to 90.3 as a reliable source for information, not as an advertiser.”

“Good that you put this info out there at various times throughout the day to inform people about the service. I would not have heard of it without 90.3.”

“I knew more from being a donor to United Way than thru the informational sources.”

Question #7
Has ideastream’s “Facing the Mortgage Crisis” coverage this summer led you to… (choose all that apply)

September Question 7

Some of the participants in the September questionnaire were driven to take an action in response to experiencing ideastream’s “Facing the Mortgage Crisis” series. However, most respondents who chose “Do something else not listed here” stated that the mortgage crisis had little to no effect on them.

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