Reposted from Stanford Journalism Program website.

The Knight Foundation announced Wednesday that the California Civic Data Coalition is among the winners of the 2015 Knight News Challenge: Elections.

The California Civic Data Coalition is building a toolkit for analysts of all stripes – from apprentice data journalists to advanced data scientists – which will make California’s arcane database tracking money in politics easy to mine. Its proposal to make it easier to obtain and analyze all the money in California state politics was one of more than a thousand applications. Twenty-two winners were named Wednesday. The coalition includes Ben Welsh of the Los Angeles Times, Jennifer LaFleur of The Center for Investigative Reporting and Aaron Williams of the San Francisco Chronicle. Stanford Journalism Program Hearst Professional-In-Residence Cheryl Phillips is also part of the coalition, as a founding leader of the journalism program’s new Stanford Computational Journalism Lab.


The California Civic Data Coalition said on its website Wednesday that it will now be able to boost its efforts in time for next year’s election coverage: “Our primary focus is refining CAL-ACCESS, the jumbled, dirty and difficult government database that tracks campaign finance and lobbying activity in California politics.”

“I’m very excited to be part of a collaboration with Knight, these news organizations and our new Stanford Computational Journalism Lab. The effort will make a difference in campaign coverage and will provide an opportunity for our students to be involved with cutting-edge data journalism efforts — both with programming challenges and analysis for stories with impact,” Phillips said. “We hope to continue to foster communication between leading academics at Stanford and the coalition to help surface patterns in campaign contributions that will lead to important stories.”

“The Stanford Computational Journalism Lab is focused on two major research questions: How can you lower the cost of discovering stories, and how can you tell stories in more personalized and engaging ways. The Knight News Challenge support of the California Civic Data Coalition will spur progress on both these topics, and lead to new types of coverage of campaigns and public policy in our state,” said Jay Hamilton, Hearst Professor of Communication, Stanford Journalism Program Director and a founding leader of the Stanford Computational Journalism Lab.

The California Civic Data Coalition plans to use the $250,000 funding to hire a full-time developer through Election Day 2016, hire Stanford students to help with projects and hold a series of code sprints as it has done in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Atlanta. (Investigative Reporters & Editors and the University of Missouri will act as the fiscal agent.)

Watch the full video from Wednesday’s announcement on Knight Foundation’s site:

About California Civic Data Coalition The California Civic Data Coalition is a coalition of journalists from the Los Angeles Times, The Center for Investigative Reporting, the San Francisco Chronicle and Stanford’s Computational Journalism Lab. Learn more at