In the forum The State of the State – and the Role of a Free Press in It, hosted by Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund (SV2) in collaboration with CALmatters on the evening of September 6, 2018 at the Sobrato Center for Nonprofits, a panel of journalists from independent news organization CALmatters shared important insights into California politics and the changing media landscape here.

“The media is changing very fast,” said Dave Lesher, CALmatters CEO and Editor in Chief, noting that many traditional media outlets in the state are struggling with declining readership and revenue. He estimated that the state Capitol press corp is roughly half the size that it was in the 1990s. Because California is the world’s fifth largest economy and often makes policies that have global impact the role of the media has never been more important. “CALmatters is working hard to bridge the coverage gap,” Lesher said.

Founded in 2015, nonprofit, nonpartisan CALmatters has become the largest news organization covering statewide issues in California, with 21 staffers and a budget of $3.4 million. The nonprofit distributes its work through 150 media organizations including all of the state’s major newspapers, public radio stations and dozens of local outlets and major news sites such as Apple News, Google News and SmartNews. Their coverage focuses on the California economy, politics, environment, education, health and welfare.

“We were delighted to offer this event to our SV2 Partners,” said Lisa Van Dusen, Chief Relationship Officer of SV2, “One of SV2’s primary purposes is to unleash the resources and talents of givers to maximize social impact. This is the first of SV2’s advocacy learning sessions this year, focused on the critical role of state-level policy. Understanding the issues is essential for SV2 and our Partners to catalyze meaningful social change.“

The forum panel featured veteran California Capitol journalists Laurel Rosenhall, Dan Walters, and Ben Christopher and was moderated by Lesher, who is also co-founder of CALmatters. The panel discussed how CALmatters reporting and tools help create transparency and understanding in the policy process so that decision-makers and civically engaged citizens can shape dialogue and encourage a healthy democracy.

CALmatters also produced a unique election guide ( “There really is no guide quite like this one,” said Christopher, who is covering the elections for CALmatters. “It's accessible, easy to navigate and highly engaging. From the ‘interview style’ for candidates to the one-minute-proposition explainers, it will leave you feeling knowledgeable about what's on the ballot.”

Collaboration with media partners is also central to the CALmatters mission, Lesher said, citing the Gimme Shelter housing podcast co-produced with the LA Times, and broader partnership initiatives such as What Happened to the California Dream? (, a two year reporting project that began this year with the four biggest public radio stations that looks at equity and quality of life issues.

To learn more about the state of our state, visit CALmatters website at For information about SV2 and strategic philanthropy, go to

About SV2
Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund (SV2) envisions a more equitable and sustainable Bay Area and world where everyone thrives. SV2’s mission is to unleash the resources and talents of the Silicon Valley community to achieve meaningful social impact. The community has grown to international acclaim, helping inspire the venture philanthropy movement around the world. With a strong portfolio of Impact Investees and Grantees, SV2 has made more than 90 grants and investments to locally based social enterprises, providing more than $5.8 million in funding since its founding and supplemented by millions of dollars in follow-on contributions from SV2 Partners.

About CALmatters
CALmatters, an independent and non-profit organization, is now the largest news media covering state policy issues in California. Its work is shared with more than 130 online, print and broadcast media partners statewide. Its reporters cover all of the major issues in California including education, the environment, healthcare, poverty, politics and fiscal issues. It has ongoing and major collaborative projects with the Los Angeles Times and with leading radio stations under a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Irvine Foundation. For more more information, go to where we encourage you to sign up for our newsletter and to support our work by becoming a member of CALmatters.


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