By Steve Kabelowsky Contributing Columnist Published Feb 07, 2013 at 3:02 PM Photography:

Business news watchers, and watchers of the markets know that certain sectors can be a predictor of how the nation’s, or even the region’s economy is doing. One of those areas is real estate.

For the full day Friday, the crew at the Fox Business Network will be presenting a special report on housing, telling the real estate story for different areas in the U.S. – including Milwaukee.

"Be sure to look beyond the headlines in national publications when it comes to housing. Real estate is local, so get familiar with your own market and what increases or decreases mean specifically for your community," writes Gerri Willis, author of "Home Rich" and host of "The Willis Report" that airs at 6 p.m. on Fox Business Network.

"While January marked Southeastern Wisconsin’s lowest level of foreclosure filings in six years, there’s actually a better way to determine the future of your own market. Here's how to read the local tea leaves. Check out your local employment picture. Are companies still in layoff mode? If people are still losing jobs it will be difficult for your housing market to recover. That's because people without jobs don't typically buy new homes."

Willis, is right about the Milwaukee market where foreclosures dropped almost 30 percent year-over-year. But the Milwaukee housing market, like other metro areas, has swings in ownership depending on the neighborhoods, and the different employers that make up the patchwork of our community. The community data on the real estate market can be found on the City of Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services website.

It will be interesting to see how deep the day-long (5 a.m. to 7 p.m.) reporting will go and how much of it will be focused on our state. Different real estate experts and economists will provide insight, including interviews with Hovnanian Enterprises CEO Ara Hovnanian, TEAM Investment Founder Tanya Marchiol, RBC Capital Markets, LLC, analyst Robert Wetenhall, Chicago Association of Realtors Managing Broker Zeke Morris and Zillow chief economist Stan Humphries.

OSCARS: If you haven’t seen the films that are nominated for the picture of the year in the Academy Awards, you are not alone. There are nine films up for an Oscar, and Marcus Theatres is offering the chance to see them all on Feb. 16 and 17.

"We will have five films on Saturday and the other four on Sunday," said Carlo Petrick, the marketing communications manager at Marcus Theatres.

The cost for the Saturday films will be $30 and the Sunday films will be $25. If you plan on seeing all nine, there will be a special Oscar price of $50. For the schedule and participating theaters, you’ll find the official announcement soon here.

If you want a chance at never having to pay for seeing movies for a year, enter Marcus’ Oscars contest on Facebook. Watch a trailer, answer a question and enter.

HONORS: Two members of the Milwaukee media family are among the 35 honorees in the 28th Annual Black Excellence Awards. The Milwaukee Times weekly newspaper recognizes Milwaukee area citizens from the African American community for their professional and personal contributions to the community, and WISN-TV Ch. 12’s Portia Young and WMCS-AM 1290’s Eric Von have earned the accolades.

The awards program will be held Feb. 22 at the Italian Community Center and features keynote speaker Steve Pemberton, a divisional vice president with Walgreen Co.

Steve Kabelowsky Contributing Columnist

Media is bombarding us everywhere.

Instead of sheltering his brain from the onslaught, Steve embraces the news stories, entertainment, billboards, blogs, talk shows and everything in between.

The former writer, editor and producer in TV, radio, Web and newspapers, will be talking about what media does in our community and how it shapes who we are and what we do.