Accuracy in Media

NBC News conducted a survey of downtown San Francisco, Calif., and found disturbing results in the course of their survey. The survey asked how dirty respondents thought the city is, and the answer, based on a survey of 153 blocks, the city is very dirty:

An NBC Bay Area Investigation reveals a dangerous mix of drug needles, garbage, and feces throughout downtown San Francisco. The Investigative Unit surveyed 153 blocks of the city – the more than 20-mile stretch includes popular tourist spots like Union Square and major hotel chains. The area – bordered by Van Ness Avenue, Market Street, Post Street and Grant Avenue – is also home to City Hall, schools, playgrounds, and a police station.

The article interviewed a teacher that said she teaches her preschool students to avoid drug needles and other health hazards on their way to school. A parent told NBC News that she regularly had to pull her three-year-old daughter aside to navigate their way to school without stepping on feces or drug needles, including at least one time that morning.

The journalists interviewed Dr. Lee Riley, an infectious disease expert at University of California at Berkeley, who suggested that some parts of San Francisco may be dirtier than some slums in developing countries:

“The contamination is … much greater than communities in Brazil or Kenya or India,” he said. He notes that in those countries, slum dwellings are often long-term homes for families and so there is an attempt to make the surroundings more livable. Homeless communities in San Francisco, however, are often kicked out from one part of town and forced to relocate to another. The result is extreme contamination, according to Riley.

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