In the weeks leading up to Election Day 2008, The Public Press joined with Newsdesk.org in a unique noncommercial news collaboration to fact-check the dizzying array of voter propositions on the San Francisco ballot.
The project, which was co-published on Newsdesk.org and Public-Press.org, with segments broadcast on Crosscurrents Radio on KALW-FM, took to task the spinmeisters who flooded San Francisco neighborhoods with fliers containing truths, half-truths, and “truthiness.”
View a sampling of dozens of fliers distributed in San Francisco to sway voters for and against propositions at our Flickr site — and mouse over the graphics to read our reporters’ commentary.
Among the facts we discovered (and highlighted using interactive Flickr images):
- Opponents of Proposition H, which would have promoted public power and clean energy generation, misrepresented the level of authority that would have been handed over to the Board of Supervisors to approve bonds, and inflated estimates of the cost.
- Proponents of Proposition A, which will provide funding to rebuild San Francisco General Hospital, made it seem in their ads that the hospital would have to close within five years if it wasn’t rebuilt. In fact, there were plenty of ways the deadline could be pushed back.
- Both sides of the debate over Proposition B, which would have created an affordable housing trust fund, spun the numbers for their own purposes in discussing the impact of setting aside a portion of the city’s annual budget.
The project was financed through an experimental collaboration with the new Knight Foundation-funded Web site Spot.us, which is pioneering “crowdfunded” journalism. Seventy-four individuals donated an average of $33 each through the Web site to make the series happen. The series got favorable coverage in SF Weekly and PBS MediaShift.
SF election 2008 proposition fliers decoded
Nov 3 2008
Prop. D: Consensus on Pier 70?
By Bernice Yeung, Nov 3 2008
JROTC and Proposition V: Lessons in How Not to Listen
By Tim Kingston, Oct 31 2008
Prop. A: The Specter of a City Without a Lifeline
By Matthew Hirsch, Oct 31 2008
Prop. M: The Latest Battle in San Francisco’s Rent Wars
By Tim Kingston, Oct 31 2008
Prop. L: Political Maneuvering on Community Justice Center
By Bernice Yeung,Oct 28 2008
Brass Tax: Propositions N and Q Levy Businesses, Property
By Tim Kingston, Oct 23 2008
Prop. K: Untested Theories Drive Prostitution Debate
By Bernice Yeung, Oct 20 2008
Prop. H: Energy Measure Spurs Conflicting Claims
By L.A. Chung, Oct 16 2008
The Business of Ballot Booklet Brokering
Campaigner and ex-City Hall aide David Noyola in an insider with election impact
By Matthew Hirsch, Sep 30 2008
San Francisco Voter Propositions for Nov. ’08
By Greg M. Schwartz, Sep 18 2008
Invasion of the Policy Pushers
Interest Groups Spin SF Ballot Arguments
By Matthew Hirsch, Sep 9 2008