Kristen Go takes the reins from Dave Lesher, who is stepping aside to lead the Accountability Desk investigative journalism effort.
Kristen Go is CalMatters’ new editor in chief, bringing extensive experience in high-quality local and national journalism to the eight-year-old nonprofit newsroom.
Born and raised in California, Go joins CalMatters from USA Today, where she was vice president and executive editor for news and initiatives.
“CalMatters has consistently played an important role in impacting the lives of Californians,” Go said. “I’m thrilled to continue building on the great work, growing its presence around the state and working with our media partners to hold the powerful accountable and create a better California.”
Go will succeed founding editor Dave Lesher, who is staying at CalMatters and will lead a new effort to transform government accountability reporting.
“Kristen is a great fit for this next chapter at CalMatters,” Lesher said. “Our continued opportunities to grow in size and reach will benefit from her deep experience managing large newsrooms, multimedia and quality journalism.”
Go grew up in California’s Central Valley, in Stockton, and started her career while in high school, reporting for her hometown newspaper. She graduated from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada at Reno, was a fellow in the Maynard Media Management program at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and has been a reporter and editor at major journalism organizations across the West.
At the Denver Post, she was part of the newsroom that won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Columbine school massacre and – in very CalMatters-like fashion – did a series on family violence that led to changes in state legislation.
At the Arizona Republic she pivoted to being an editor, leading coverage of key topics including breaking news, public safety and online videos capturing news of the day.
At the San Francisco Chronicle, she helped shepherd its digital transformation, oversaw major enterprise stories, and actively recruited talent to fill more than 60 vacancies while dramatically increasing the newsroom’s diversity. In 2015 Editor and Publisher named the publication one of the top 10 “that do it right.”
At the UC Berkeley graduate school of journalism’s investigative reporting program, she trained independent documentary filmmakers and managed the Logan Symposium. She helped found the nonprofit Common Sense Media, working on a service dedicated to reporting on children and family issues.
And at USA TODAY, where she is the first Asian journalist to be executive editor and vice president, Go worked with reporters on major projects, including ones on dangerous conditions at migrant detention centers, racial disparities in COVID-19 deaths and the roots and legacy of slavery. She also led the national desk, coordinating coverage across the nation and led targeted departments on efforts doubling and quadrupling audience reach and engagement.
Go has consistently produced and overseen award-winning work while acting as a guest speaker and judge for contests including the Goldsmith Awards and the Pulitzer Prizes. She was honored in the “Women of Achievement” honors given by Legal Momentum and given a president’s award from Exceptional Women in Publishing. She also has served as a mentor within the Asian American Journalists Association, Chips Quinn Scholarship Program and the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.
“Kristen is the right leader at the right time for CalMatters,” said CEO Neil Chase. “She shares our aspiration to do important, impactful journalism. Her leadership experience in large, high-quality news organizations will guide our growth, and I’m especially pleased that she’s a Californian passionate about doing this work in her home state.”
Go lives in Walnut Creek with her husband and two children. She plans to start at CalMatters on May 30.
CalMatters is a nonpartisan and nonprofit news organization bringing Californians stories that probe, explain and explore solutions to quality of life issues while holding our leaders accountable. We are the only journalism outlet dedicated to covering America’s biggest state, 39 million Californians and the world’s fifth largest economy.