Wednesday, April 24, 2013

SF Chron: About Conway's $100K Gift to SFPD . . .

(Screen grab from San Francisco Magazine's December issue.)

Here's the latest chapter in the saga of following the money at the San Francisco Police Department and tech mogul Ron Conway, and his alleged $100,000 donation last June to the force. Previous posts here, here and here.

I've been requesting that the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper make a correction about their August 27, 2012, story by Heather Knight that said:

Police Chief Greg Suhr couldn't be happier that his longtime friend [Ron Conway] is sprinkling some fairy dust on the notoriously Luddite Police Department. In June, donated $100,000, and Hewlett-Packard donated 60 laptops so officers can connect to the department's crime-data warehouse from the field. 

After a few days of requests to the paper's editors and reporter Knight, she emailed this explanation, which sheds lights and raises questions:

The $100,000 from sfciti went to ArcTouch, an app developer, to develop the app and engineering the SFPD is using to allow officers to use mobile technology to build case files from the field rather than having to go back to their district station and use a desktop computer. That is why it doesn't show up as a direct donation to SFPD.

Oh. So, the $100,000 was actual cash as the Chronicle claimed and the money (was there genuine money exchanged or did ArcTouch simply donate $100,000 in staff time?) really went to a tech firm.

I asked Knight and two her editors if they agreed a correction was warranted, and the reply was radio silence. There's been no print correction and nothing appended to the original story. And the Chronicle wonders why its readership dwindles each passing day.

BTW, the paper doesn't maintain an online page for corrections and it certainly could use one, pronto. Sure, the paper edition on page two, at the bottom, prints corrections but there is no online equivalent. 

Hearst executives could learn a lesson from the New York Times about a dedicated corrections page, and raise the standards of San Francisco journalism with such a page.

The larger issue of following Conway's money may be made easier when the SFPD finally develops its gifts and donations disclosure page, which will allegedly will include records back to 2010.

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