California Civic Data Coalition named Knight News Challenge winner

Foundation commits $250,000 to boost open-source effort to ease analysis of money in state politics

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

The $250,000 award will allow the coalition to expand its effort to make the arcane database tracking money in California politics easier to mine for ambitious analysis.

Our plan, outlined in this initial proposal, is to hire a full-time developer who will team with participating newsrooms and Stanford students to lead the project through Election Day 2016.

We also plan to host a series of code sprints where journalists, campaign-finance experts and computer programmers will be invited to collaborate with our core team.

The pitch

Ben Welsh of the Los Angeles Times explained the mission at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life in Austin, Texas.

We want you

This means we are hiring. We are seeking a developer who will not just code but also lead product development, partnering with our core team and others to shape the project’s future.

Applicants need computer-programming experience. Expertise in campaign-finance analysis is an advantage but not a requirement. Passion for open-source software is a must.

The applicant will have the opportunity to join a working newsroom and collaborate directly with professional journalists and leading data scientists.

We will pay a competitive salary and offer full benefits. The hire will be an employee of our fiscal agent, Investigative Reporters and Editors at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Anyone interested in applying for the job should contact cacivicdata@gmail.com.

About our team

The California Civic Data Coalition is a loosely coupled team from the Los Angeles Times Data Desk, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Center for Investigative Reporting and Stanford’s Computational Journalism Lab.

The coalition was formed in 2014 to lead the development of open-source software that makes California’s public data easier to access and analyze. The effort has drawn hundreds of contributions from other developers and journalists at competing news outlets.

Our primary focus is refining CAL-ACCESS, the jumbled, dirty and difficult government database that tracks campaign finance and lobbying activity in California politics.

About our funder

The Knight Foundation is the leading funder of journalism and media innovation. Its mission is to promote informed and engaged communities. The foundation does that by investing in innovations in media and journalism, community engagement and the arts.

The 2015 Knight News Challenge on elections is funding ideas that better inform voters and increase civic participation before, during and after elections. The winners were chosen from more than 1,000 applicants.