Kristen Hwang reporting on a story in Fresno on June 10, 2022. Photo by Larry Valenzuela, CalMatters/CatchLight Local
Kristen Hwang reporting on a story in Fresno on June 10, 2022. Photo by Larry Valenzuela, CalMatters/CatchLight Local

At CalMatters, we know California can solve its challenges and create a brighter future. And we know that quality, high-impact journalism plays a vital role in creating that future.

With nearly 40 million people and the world’s fifth-largest economy, we have endless opportunities. We also have substantial problems to solve together. Explaining our government and how it works – or doesn’t – and holding elected officials accountable for their decisions creates a better informed and more engaged California, a more secure democracy, and a state where more people may build the lives of their dreams.

CalMatters is an award-winning, nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism venture that explains how California’s government works and why it matters. We’re based in Sacramento, with journalists across California, covering both the decision-making that happens in the Capitol and the effects of those policies in all corners of the state. We work to lift up the stories of those whose voices are rarely heard in government.

Because of the investments by our generous supporters, our work results in new legislation, investigations of lawmakers, regulation overhauls, and discussions across the state – from committee rooms to living rooms. Here’s a sampling of how we make a difference.

By The Numbers

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A growing number of readers rely on our work because our stories impact their lives.

We now average 1 million website visitors per month. Millions more see our work through Apple News, Patch, and the more than 250 media organizations in California to which we give our stories at no cost. Here we give a look at our impacts by the numbers:

  • Reach measures how many people see our work on our website and across social media, which spreads awareness of our nonpartisan news content.
  • Growth looks at our staffing level and count of published news stories.
  • Relevance shows how many people are signed up to receive our free email newsletters and how many people have selected to follow our updates across social media channels.
  • And engagement tracks how many people are so motivated by our content that they engage with us and our content across social media sites and how many people have decided to become members, making individual donations in support of our work.

Latest Impacts

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Voter Information

Our 2022 nonpartisan voter guide launched 50 days before the June primary, bringing Californians candidate resumes, a FAQ, side-by-side comparisons of stances on major issues  and the most comprehensive campaign finance information we’ve ever provided.

And because redistricting has redrawn legislative and congressional districts, a lookup tool helped Californians find their new districts and the candidates competing in them.

The guide was linked to by more than 150 websites and was seen by nearly 600,000 people.

As a guide user and CalMatters member recently put it while donating to us, “Your voting guides are SO clear and helpful. Thank you for promoting civic duty!”

Ballot Translation

A week after Sameea Kamal wrote that California was reducing the number of languages for translation of ballots and voter information, the Secretary of State reversed that decision. And her office contacted Sameea to let her know in advance of their announcement.


Lead investigative reporter Robert Lewis and K-12 education reporter Joe Hong teamed up to answer a question many parents had been struggling to find the answer to: How was the $33.5 billion in state and federal COVID relief funding given to schools spent?

What they uncovered was disturbing: financial oversight was scarce as billions in aid poured into California schools – and some districts won’t disclose where the money went. For this 2-part series, Money trail: California’s pandemic riches, our team spent three months examining school COVID relief spending across the state, reviewing thousands of pages of records obtained through more than 45 public records requests.

Student Housing

After Mikhail Zinshteyn revealed mistakes in the CSU system’s $500 million student-housing plan, the plan was revised and resubmitted. An assistant vice chancellor told lawmakers: “After we learned we misread the program guidelines, we ran multiple financial plans in order to submit revised documents.”

Firefighter PTSD

In Julie Cart’s groundbreaking 4-part series, Trial by Fire, California’s firefighters describe a broken and depleted fire service suffering a hidden, smoldering crisis. As climate change intensifies California’s wildfires, the state’s firefighters suffer from the increasing strain of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Decisions made while struggling with lack of sleep, long hours and stress could endanger not just the crews, but the public, too. What is the state doing to respond? Overwhelmingly, California’s firefighters say, “Not nearly enough.” These stories were distributed across our network of more than 250 newsrooms. In addition, CBS news stations across the state featured the story.

Mental Health

Following Jocelyn Wiener’s story on the state’s inability to fund the newly created 9-8-8 mental health hotline system, the state Department of Health Care Services announced it would spend $20 million to support the call centers, surprising even those advocating for the funding.

Nursing Homes

A CalMatters investigation by Jocelyn Wiener found that the state allowed California’s largest nursing homeowner to operate many facilities even as their license applications languished in pending status — or were outright denied. A lawsuit citing 142 safety violations in one of the homes that was denied a license blames the operators for 24 COVID-related deaths.

The chair of the Assembly Health Committee said the story “blew the lid off of my thinking.” Later he said in a hearing: “We have to wait for news articles. We have to wait for people to die.” The chair promised new legislation. As new legislation was drafted,  AB 1502, advocates calling for reform say the amended bill is “a step backwards.”

Wildfire Prevention

A 2021 law signed by Governor Newsom grew out of a CalMatters live event on fire prevention including CalMatters’ Julie Cart and State Senator Bill Dodd. Following, Senator Dodd began discussing a bill to provide legal and liability protection to entities managing prescribed burns.


Our pandemic-related eviction series Staying Sheltered (produced in English and Spanish), combined massive database analysis with personal stories following a half dozen of the more than 2 million Californians who were behind on rent and subject to eviction without the temporary moratorium

As a result of our reporting, evictions in several areas in the state were canceled and communities came together to help the families we profiled — including having their rent paid and receiving gift cards to buy Christmas presents. And in Sacramento, the stories of those same families, combined with our data journalism, led to new laws to protect them.


Throughout the pandemic, newsletter editor Emily Hoeven, reported on the Employment Development Department’s massive scandal that resulted in at least $20 billion being paid out to fraudulent claims. Lawmakers repeatedly cited our reporting as attempts were made to fix the problem.

Homeless Struggles

Jackie Botts profiled Fernando, a Los Angeles man struggling with homelessness. The pandemic gave the chronically homeless veteran a chance at permanent supportive housing, but his experience differed from what state leaders envision.

In response, the deputy secretary of the state housing agency said: “It is the best story I’ve seen since I’ve been here about what an individual experiencing homelessness has to go through. And the sidebar about the five challenges in expanding permanent supportive housing also hit the nail on the head – especially the part about treatment being siloed. I know Secretary Castro Ramírez was also impressed, as were staff at the California Interagency Council on Homelessness.”’

Annual Reports

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Media Partners

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We are proud to help our more than 250 media partners across the state serve their communities’ news and information needs by providing CalMatters stories, at no cost. Please email us to learn about becoming a CalMatters media partner. We have a handy embed tool with code that makes it easy for publishers to use our stories and graphics on your site. 

For questions about media partnerships, please contact Chief Development Officer Kate Looby at

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