Writing:Opposition (local measures)

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This page is a content-and-style guide about how to add a section on "Opposition" to a local ballot measure article.
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Procedure

This section customarily appears after the section labeled "Support." The section would ordinarily have a paragraph or two of prose that tells the reader who the primary opponents of the ballot measure are. This could cover:

  • The name(s) of the officially-filed committee(s) that opposes it.
  • The names of several prominent individuals who oppose it. For example, if the governor of the state opposes it, that's prominent and it should be mentioned.

The "opposition" section would then go on to have several subsections. These subsections normally are:

Adding "Arguments"

There are (at least) two options for how you can characterize the arguments that are being made (all arguments should include references):

  • Quote: You can quote the actual arguments. This gives the reader the exact flavor of how the measure's supporters or opponents are actually talking about it. The actual words or phrases used as arguments by those involved in supporting or opposing a measure can be raw, vigorous, aggressive and full of spin. The arguments offered up by those on campaigns can also be misleading, either deliberately or by accident. The positive case to be made for quoting the real things people are saying is that it lets the reader know exactly what people are, in fact, saying. The negative case is that without exercising significant care in how you write it, you might appear to be endorsing or agreeing with some facts or charges the opponents/supporters are making as part of their argument. (Note: when adding a quote make sure to note who said the statement and reference your source).
  • Paraphrase:You can characterize arguments that are being made, without directly quoting raw, aggressive or potentially misleading claims. This allows you to lay out the main reasons people are giving for their position, without putting yourself in the position of appearing to agree with factual claims that are part of their argument, but which have not been established (or may not be true).

Adding "Donors"

Typically, you'll have two subsections about donors in a ballot measure article; one under "support" and one under "opposition."

  • If you mention the top five or ten donors to a campaign, and the amount of their donation, please include a modifying sentence such as "As of March 18, 2009, the top five donors to the campaign and their donations were..." This lets the reader know how current the information is. It also lets future contributors to the article know which new campaign finance filings they need to look at, versus the older campaign finance filings you have already reported on in the article.

See also