Over 1 million division

Submitted by

Heather Gilligan
Newsroom Coordinator



In eight years, nonprofit CalMatters has carved out a leadership role at the center of California’s media ecosystem. We're now the “go-to” hub for in-depth information on statewide issues, blending sophisticated writing with multimedia to make our deeply reported journalism more vivid.

It all starts with good stories. We investigate and explain how state politics and policy affect lives — in short, telling Californians what the state is doing for them, and to them. In “Out of State, Out of Mind,” we revealed California’s hypocrisy: congratulating itself for environmental goodness while quietly shipping tons of toxic waste to states with looser restrictions.

But good stories move people — and power — only if they are well-told. With fewer than 30 text reporters, three data reporters and three photographers, CalMatters punches above our weight when it comes to innovative multimedia. Because our core mission is to hold the state accountable and engage Californians in the policymaking process, we created Glass House. Embedded links, used whenever lawmakers are mentioned in stories, connect readers to Glass House’s trove of information about a lawmaker’s bio, donors, committees, gifts received, special-interest trips taken, rating and more. We also devised Legislators Like You, an interface for users to explore the demographics of their elected officials (inspired by our realization that there were more men in the Legislature named James than there were Black and Asian American women, combined). We constructed calculators allowing readers to, for instance, compare driving costs between comparable gas and electric vehicles based on miles driven. We built a tracker interface to explore profiles of each unarmed Californian killed by police under state investigation.

And our 2022 statewide voter guide shows we explicitly thought about how underserved Californians consume news and how to reach them — especially younger potential voters. The guide offers snackable nuggets of content — exemplified by our punchy Props-in-a-Minute ballot measure videos and interactive game "Gimme Props." It also included a district lookup tool, live voter FAQ, videos interviews and face-offs between candidates, and live campaign finance graphics. And when we asked people to host Pizza & Politics parties — using our guide and videos to foster reasoned debate — more than 2,500 people participated in 52 parties.

We also continue to deploy innovative news-gathering devices. We built a scraper to access and cross-reference prison transfer data, revealing a practice that caught even activists by surprise. And we crafted an interface to input lawmakers’ financial disclosure statements into a database — which we shared publicly and used to write several analyses.

At CalMatters we've made a strategic decision to aim our state policy and politics coverage not at Capitol insiders, but at the diverse array of people who call California home — people who want and/or need to know what their state government is doing for them and to them.

Our journalism now reaches more than 1 to 2 million Californians each month on our website and millions more through our network of 200-plus media partners. We freely share our stories with major newspapers and public radio stations, small online sites, college newspapers and
ethnic media — an innovative nonprofit model that supports local news while helping raise the quality of its coverage. We’ve reported and produced stories for National Public radio and the PBS NewsHour.

Our card deck explainers — data-heavy background on timely and provocative issues like “How California created the nation’s easiest abortion access” and “How California got tough on guns” — have long traffic tails that draw readers for months and even years. And at election time, we’ve become a voter essential: At least 1 in 5 Californians who cast ballots in 2022 took advantage of our election content — often sampling our fun election products and then navigating to our deeper analyses.

CalMatters is continually redefining the potential of a nonprofit news operation. We created a College Journalism Network to engage and inspire California’s next generation of journalists — bringing together and paying diverse student journalists across the state to receive training and collaborate on stories for CalMatters.We've also developed a California Divide team to cover the major issue of our time, income inequality: a problem throughout the U.S., but no place is that more apparent than in California, a diverse nation-state where nearly half of its 40 million residents live in or on the precipice of poverty. We’ve initiated unique packaging of our work for teachers, students, libraries and community groups via our CalMatters for Learning project.

How do we measure success? Not by clicks but by impact.

A final note: CalMatters has built a staff that is 50% employees of color, on the way to the 65% level that reflects the people who live in California and whose stories we aim to tell well..

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