The media stampede is on: “McDonald’s takes a bite out of Mid-Market, opens tech office near Twitter” spoke the SF Business Times. “McDonald’s Launches Mid-Market ‘Digital Incubator’” chimed SF Eater. “McDonald’s Opens Up Mid-Market San Francisco Office To Lure Tech-Savvy Talent” echoed CBS Local. “McDonald’s moves in to mid-Market, sets up digital office near Twitter HQ,” chimed the SF Examiner.
What do all these stories have in common? They are false.
McDonald’s is not opening a tech office in Mid-Market. It is opening an office at 685 Market, which is between 2nd and 3rd Streets, an area never defined as “Mid-Market Street.”
685 Market is a different geographical universe from Mid-Market Street and Twitter’s offices on Market between 9th and 10th Streets. It is far closer to the Moscone Center, Ferry Building, Union Square, and the downtown financial district than it is to Twitter.
Why the false reporting? The notion of fast food giant McDonald’s opening a tech center near Twitter was too good story a story to resist. Editors figured nobody would notice that the sites were nowhere close since both are on Market Street. Significantly, none of the above stories provided McDonald’s exact address, so readers would be unable to uncover the truth.
The Media’s False Mid-Market Narrative
According to the SF Examiner story linked above, “Fast-food chain McDonald’s is the latest company to set up shop in the mid-Market Street area, where it hopes to match tech companies like Twitter and Zendesk not only in real estate, but in digital innovation.” This and similar stories contribute to a false narrative that the tech influx has actually hurt the area, as McDonald’s is not a popular business in San Francisco (recall the furor last December when a McDonald’s retail outlet sought to replace popular vegetarian restaurant Ananda Fuara at 9th and Market)
Or consider how SF Magazine’s Scott Lucas described McDonald’s alleged Mid-Market move. In his June 17 story, “McDonald’s Is Building a Tenderloin Tech Incubator Because the Internet Economy Is Going Up and Up Forever, Wheee!,” Lucas asks a supervisor to comment on “how Mayor Lee’s tax breaks for tech companies had indirectly led to a McDonald’s incubator on Market Street.” Although the Mid-Market/Tenderloin payroll tax break does not cover McDonald’s new office, and had nothing to do with McDonald’s “incubator,” Lucas uses the false story to try to discredit the tax break strategy.
The false story of McDonald’s getting tax breaks for opening a digital incubator in the shadow of Twitter is likely to take hold in the media stratosphere regardless of efforts to set the record straight. The false narrative of the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit survives despite ample refutation, and unless the above media recant their stories—an unlikely scenario—we will hear the false story of McDonald’s seizing Mid-Market tax breaks for years.
In fact, even the one story that includes the 600 block of Market address, “McDonald’s Seeks That Market Street Mojo,” does not allow the fact that its nowhere near Twitter or Mid-Market tech to change its story line. Citing the “young, hip, and successful tech companies or branches of companies around Market Street—like Spotify, Yammer, Square, and One Kings Lane,” it notes that now “to this tech Mecca has come McDonald’s.
This stack of false media stories provide a cautionary tale for readers and reporters alike. The next time you hear about a real estate deal, crime or other newsworthy incident alleging occurring in Mid-Market, first check the address.
Randy Shaw is Editor of Beyond Chron. His most recent book is The Activist’s Handbook: Winning Social Change in the 21st Century