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Twitter storm over offensive Bloomberg housing cover

February 28, 2013

Twitter is blowing up over the latest cover of Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. The cover depicts a household of minorites grabbing at cash. The implications are huge. But, judging by the cover lines, the article can simply be described as misinformed.

The claim that minorities are creating a housing bubble through flipping, no-look bids, and 300% returns is simply not reality. Flipping is not a form of fraud -- except on the lending side, perhaps -- but not representative of a typical transaction. No-look bids are not exclusive to Hispanic and African-American investors. No one is making a 300% return. And even if assuming all the claims are true, it is not with enough velocity to credit it to creating the housing rebound.

Ryan Chittum of the Columbia Journalism Review first brought the cover to the attention of Twitteratti.

His article comments: "The cover stands out for its cast of black and Hispanic caricatures with exaggerated features reminiscent of early 20th century race cartoons. Also, because there are only people of color in it, grabbing greedily for cash. It’s hard to imagine how this one made it through the editorial process."

Rob Blackwell, the Washington Bureau Chief of American Banker lashed out via his @ABWashBureau account: "As someone who covered the financial crisis, this cover is both offensive and incorrect," he tweeted. But that wasn't enough. His outrage continued to grow. Blackwell later suggested the Bloomberg editors were "high" during the creative process.

Prolific, and popular among financial followers, the anonymous twitter stream from @amaeryllis™ also reflected an equally critical perspective. "It’s one thing to be offensive (bad). It’s another to be offensive AND factually incorrect (worse)," Amaeryllis tweeted.

By the time this blog gets printed, the Twitter storm may conceivably be dead in the water. As of right now, Bloomberg social media director Jared Keller did not tweet a defense/response to the criticism.

I can accept both of these possibilities.

But let this blog show that qualified financial journalists and commentators all feel outraged by the attempt of the ignorant housing journalists at Bloomberg Businessweek, who masquerade as the chroniclers of the major economic events of our times, to pass off offensive fiction as representative of fact.

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