New journalism venture CALmatters will expand California political coverage with Knight Foundation support

Press Release

August 11, 2015

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Aug. 11, 2015 – CALmatters, a new public-interest journalism venture, will help Californians better understand state government with $250,000 in support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Related Link

"New journalism venture digs deep to explore policymaking in California" by Kaizar Campwala on Knight Blog, 8/11/2015

According to a study by Pew Research Center, the number of full-time statehouse reporters at U.S. newspapers declined by 35 percent from 2003 to 2014. CALmatters will help fill this void by deeply researching major California policy issues and being creative and experimental in how the reporting is packaged and distributed to reach Californians outside of the capitol.

CALmatters aims to explain how policy is made in the eighth largest economy in the world by examining the interplay of personalities, politics and money in Sacramento. Knight Foundation funding will help the nonprofit news organization build on the support and momentum it has generated since the organization’s inception in late 2014. It will support data-driven reporting including the development of a Legislator Tracking Database that highlights personal, political and policy information for each state legislator.

In addition, CALmatters will continue to test unique ways to engage audiences and expand its business development practices. In its first year the CALmatters team is experimenting with a mix of media partnerships both in-state and nationally, editorial packages around key policy issues and engagement approaches to connect with the range of audiences in the diverse state. The organization looks to build earned revenue sources starting with event sponsorships.

“CALmatters is looking to fill a gap in the quality and quantity of news by using data-driven reporting and analysis about California state government to keep up with the demands of the digital age,” said Shazna Nessa, Knight Foundation director for journalism. “The news site has already generated strong local support, and has the potential to be a leader in nonprofit news in a state that has 38 million people and significant economic influence both in the United States and the world.”

CALmatters published its first series of articles, interactive visualizations and radio stories exploring California’s climate change policies on July 19 and has continued to release follow-up stories over the past several weeks. The content is distributed through the CALmatters website and social media, as well as through partnerships with more than 40 media organizations across the state including California’s leading public radio stations and newspapers, from the Los Angeles Times and KQED, to the Bakersfield Calfornian and the Eureka Times Standard.

“CALmatters will tell stories about how Sacramento works, and why it matters.” said Kaizar Campwala, CALmatters president. “We hope to be part of a new generation of journalism organizations that are responsive to the realities of how people get news today. This new support will help us deliver data-informed reporting and analysis that will engage Californians as they better understand the policies that affect their daily lives.”

CALmatters has committed to raising an additional $250,000 to match Knight's funding.

Support for CALmatters is part of Knight Foundation’s efforts to help news organizations establish long-term sustainability in the digital age and advance excellence in journalism. Knight has made many investments in this area, including the $5 million Knight Local Media Initiative, which has supported more than 50 organizations in in innovating and experimenting with news coverage.

About CALmatters

CALmatters is a nonprofit journalism venture focused on engaging Californians in how their state government works and why it matters through original, multi-platform reporting and analysis. To learn more, visit www.calmatters.org, and connect with CALmatters on Facebook and Twitter.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

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Contacts:

Kaizar Campwala, President, CALmatters, 415-830-6748, [email protected]

Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677, [email protected]