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Inside CALmatters

CALmatters is pleased to announce three new additions to our Sacramento-based team, starting in January. Since our launch in 2015, the new positions will grow CALmatters’ total staff to 18 full time members. The jobs — for social media, videography and higher education coverage — will expand CALmatters’ coverage and improve our ability to explain important state issues through new storytelling formats.

“This is a big boost for CALmatters to attract top-level talent with the cutting-edge expertise it takes to communicate in today’s rapidly changing media landscape,” said David Lesher, editor, CEO and co-founder of CALmatters. “We are grateful to the donors who make this work possible and who support our non-profit mission to increase awareness, accountability and transparency about the major issues in California.”

Meet the new team members:

Byrhonda Lyons will produce video journalism at CALmatters. She developed social media strategies and video content that significantly increased traffic for environmental government agencies in California and Montana. She is the creator and host of a podcast on American history and former morning drive host on public radio in Montana. She was a writer and editor for publications in Oakland and in San Quentin state prison. She has a masters degree in journalism from UC Berkeley.

Felicia Mello will cover higher education for CALmatters. She is an award-winning, multimedia journalist with experience producing stories online, in newspaper and magazine print publications and on radio. She was an editor at and director of an online publication in Las Vegas. Her freelance work has appeared in the Washington Post, the LA Times Magazine and National Public Radio. She has a masters degree in journalism from UC Berkeley and she speaks fluent Spanish. CALmatters thanks the College Futures Foundation for supporting this position.

Trevor Eischen is the social media editor for CALmatters. He was the Social Media Editor at Politico in Washington, DC. where his work and strategies have increased Facebook and Twitter traffic more than 200% in 2.5 years. Trevor was responsible for training a 200-person newsroom and distributing multimedia political news on a range of online platforms. Earlier, as the Senior Web Producer at Politico, he worked with developers to optimize the user experience. Trevor has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and history from the University of Missouri.

The additions in January follow recent CALmatters announcements about the hiring of Priyanka Sharma-Sindhar to a new position as Director of Revenue and the election of Richard Koci Hernandez to the Board of Directors. Priyanka, a former marketing director at Informa and entrepreneur who launched one of the first hyper-local news sites in California, will lead CALmatters work in developing earned revenue. Koci, as he is known, is an internationally recognized innovator in multimedia and an associate professor at UC Berkeley. He is working with CALmatters and Byrhonda, a former student of his, to develop CALmatters video strategies.

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. 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.

Want to submit a reader reaction? You can find our submission guidelines here. Please contact Dan Morain with any questions,, (916) 201.6281.

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Aug. 16, 2018 11:46 am

Standing Strong for a #FreePress

Publisher and COO

Three years ago our nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization, CALmatters, was founded with a simple mission: to explain how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters. We share our coverage of state government with more than 140 news partners big and small across California, who are dedicated to informing their communities.

Every day we work hard to create transparency and understanding in the policy process that allows decision-makers and civically engaged citizens to shape dialogue and encourages a healthy democracy with informed voters.

We put trust at the center of all we do and we deliver fair, accurate, and balanced coverage.

As a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization, CALmatters doesn’t have an editorial board and we can’t and don’t take positions on anything.

But we can and do stand today with the hundreds of news organizations that published editorials supporting freedom of press, as well as our media partners, and others across our state and nation like the Institute for NonProfit News, of which we are a member; veteran journalist and CALmatters board member Gregory Favre whose op-ed we published today; and all of us here at CALmatters, who, like our nation’s founders, believe that a free and independent press is vital to our democracy.   



Marcia Parker, Publisher

Want to submit a reader reaction? You can find our submission guidelines here. Please contact Dan Morain with any questions,, (916) 201.6281.

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For generations, newspaper commentary sections have been an important and influential forum for experts and advocates, policymakers and pundits to share their views on major issues. Most of our social challenges are not simple and the solutions are not obvious. A forum for commentary is an opportunity to hear directly from people involved, in their own words. And it is a complement to the journalism at CALmatters.

CALmatters is a nonpartisan, statewide news organization with a mission to raise public awareness about California issues. So it is an appropriate place to host a forum with a wide range of perspectives on the major issues for our state. We will seek out voices from across the political spectrum to help understand where we have common ground and where there are differences. We will include a diversity of voices representing California’s population, its geography, its young and its old. It will be a place to hear different sides of issues, as we will show with the propositions on the upcoming November ballot. And it will be a place to hear about ideas for how to solve California’s major problems from experts, advocates and decision makers.

As with all of our work at CALmatters, the commentary articles we post will be shared with more than 140 print, broadcast and digital media partners statewide. On our site,, the commentary articles will also be clearly marked to distinguish the individual perspectives from our journalism.

Senior editor Dan Morain will oversee the forum. He is an accomplished journalist and former editorial page editor at the Sacramento Bee. He is looking for pieces of fewer than 700 words that help explain important facets of our state. Please feel free to reach out to Dan with any suggestions and with your thoughts at, 916.201.6281.

David Lesher
CEO/Editor, CALmatters

Want to submit a reader reaction? You can find our submission guidelines here. Please contact Dan Morain with any questions,, (916) 201.6281.

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CALmatters is pleased to announce that Janet Clayton, senior vice president of corporate communications for Southern California Edison and its parent company Edison International, has joined the nonprofit news organization’s Board of Directors.

“I have known Janet for many years at the LA Times, where she was a highly respected editorial page editor and Assistant Managing Editor for California coverage,” said Dave Lesher, CALmatters co-founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief. “Janet shares our commitment to the important mission at CALmatters. She will bring extensive, high-level experience in journalism, the nonprofit world, and business, and a substantial network of contacts to CALmatters.”

Clayton leads internal and external communications, corporate and brand positioning, and community relations and philanthropic programs. Before joining Edison, Clayton was president of ThinkCure, a community-based nonprofit that raises funds for cancer research and is the official charity of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Prior to ThinkCure, Clayton had a distinguished career at the Los Angeles Times as a key member of the newspaper’s leadership team. She held numerous positions, including editor of the editorial pages, where she determined the Times’ official opinions, and California section editor, where she managed the largest news staff at the newspaper. Clayton has received many accolades for excellence in her profession, including recognition as the editor of two Pulitzer Prize-winning series. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Southern California.

“I’m delighted to join the CALmatters board in its important societal mission,” Clayton said.

The CALmatters board is now eight people, including Clayton, Simone Coxe, Board Chair & Co-Founder; Director, KQED & Internews; Chris Boskin, Co-Founder; Director, NPR, Internews & Gladstone Institute; Gregory Favre, Former Vice President of News, McClatchy; Executive Editor, The Sacramento Bee; Jeff Klein, Executive Chairman, 1105 Media; Tony Ridder, former Chairman, Knight Ridder; Leo Wolinsky, former Executive Editor, Los Angeles Times; and Richard Koci Hernandez, Multimedia journalist and Associate Professor at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

“We know Janet will be an excellent addition to our board as we work together to chart CALmatters future growth,” said Coxe. “In particular, her experience in the foundation and corporate worlds will add value to our earned revenue strategies.”

CALmatters also has an Advisory Board, including Ann Grimes, Lorry I. Lokey Professor of the Practice in the Stanford Journalism Program, Stanford University; Douglas McGray, Editor in Chief, The California Sunday Magazine; Mekahlo Medina, President of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and anchor/reporter for KNBC News; John Thornton, Founder, Texas Tribune; Richard Tofel, President, ProPublica, and Carlos Watson, Co-Founder and CEO of OZY Media, Inc.; and Ernest Wilson, formerly Dean, The Annenberg School of Communications, and now professor of communication and political science, and founder and director of the USC Center for Third Space.


Launched in 2015, CALmatters is a nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters. Environmental regulation, education, health care, criminal justice, economic inequality – the debates on these issues and others have a profound impact on the lives of 38 million Californians and beyond. Our team of 20 experienced journalists, with the time and resources to dig deep, is committed to meaningfully informing Californians about the players, politics, and interests that shape the issues that affect their lives. To ensure we reach many Californians, we work with more than 130 media organizations throughout the state that have long, deep relationships with their local audiences. CALmatters is based in Sacramento, CA.

Media outlets interested in becoming CALmatters media partners should contact Editor-in-Chief Dave Lesher at

Want to submit a reader reaction? You can find our submission guidelines here. Please contact Dan Morain with any questions,, (916) 201.6281.

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