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.