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Soda tax opponents circulate mailer showing Oakland North story with edited headline

on October 14, 2016

The opponents of a controversial Oakland ballot measure that would tax soda have been circulating a campaign mailer that uses an image of an Oakland North story, but with an altered headline.

The mailer shows an image of a computer displaying a story we published on September 15, 2016, which profiled an Oakland grocer offering his thoughts on the ballot measure.

But the headline above the story has been edited. In this version, the headline reads: “Oakland Grocers Raise Concerns.”

The complete original headline was: “Oakland grocers raise concerns about soda tax Measure HH.”

The campaign against Measure HH, which is backed by beverage makers, has consistently portrayed the tax as a “grocery tax,” rather than a “soda tax.”

The mailers contain a note that they were “paid for by No on HH: No Oakland Grocery Tax, with major funding by American Beverage Association California PAC.”

Our staff members quickly spotted the change after receiving copies of the campaign flyer in the mail. Not only was the headline a mismatch, but Oakland North headlining style does not capitalize every word and does not center text, as the edited headline does the mailer.

The No on HH campaign did not have permission to use the Oakland North logo, nor the photograph accompanying the story.

Oakland North, as well as our parent organization, the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, does not endorse either side of the Measure HH campaign. Nor do we endorse any political campaign or candidate. As a news organization that trains student reporters to work as professional journalists, we aim for accurate, neutral coverage.

This story, as well as other stories published on Oakland North, have covered both sides of the debate, including tracking the funding for both the Yes and No campaigns, covering the history of previous attempts to tax soda, getting health experts to speak about the medical effects of soda consumption, and reporting on the semantic debate over what to call the tax.

The Graduate School of Journalism has sent a letter to a representative of the No on HH campaign asking them to stop using and circulating the image containing the falsified headline.

You can read the original story, with its true headline, here.




  1. Janna Cordeiro on October 15, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    I would encourage you to write an article about how the Beverage Industry continues to do whatever it wants to do to protect their Billions$$ in profits whether it’s illegally using your logo, making up the story that groceries will go up due to the soda tax (there is no evidence this will happen), manipulating store owners, buying off health and community organizations (paper just this week released documenting this), targeting our kids, using threats or actual lawsuits to prevent education (e.g. warning label law in SF)… pls tell these important stories. There is a lot there.Thank you.

  2. […] The UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, the parent organization for Oakland North, filed a cease and desist order on October 14, after the campaign sent out a mailer showing a screenshot of an Oakland North story with an […]

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Oakland North is an online news service produced by students at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and covering Oakland, California. Our goals are to improve local coverage, innovate with digital media, and listen to you–about the issues that concern you and the reporting you’d like to see in your community. Please send news tips to:

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