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Inside the Newsroom

Take a coffee break with California Watch

March 24, 2011, 12:59 PM | Ashley Alvarado

Here at California Watch, we are committed to producing first-rate investigative journalism, but that is not enough – at least not for us. My job is to always focus on public engagement. How can our reporters and editors build stronger relationships with the multitude of diverse communities that make up our state?

We want a two-way relationship with our readers: an open dialogue that allows and encourages Californians to inform our reporting. And here’s a great opportunity for that.

Next Monday, March 28, the California Watch team will spread out to work in coffeehouses from San Francisco to Visalia to Irvine for our third Open Newsroom event. We’re doing this in hopes of meeting you, our readers, and having one-on-one conversations about the issues that matter most in your community. From 9 a.m. till noon, you’ll find us at local cafes, plugged into Wi-Fi, and waiting to meet you. Got tips? We’re here to listen and learn. Have questions about reporting in California? We want to talk to you. Stop by and say hello, or follow our tweets with the hashtag #opennews.

To find out which reporter is where, check out the map below. We’d also like to take a moment to thank the following coffeehouses who are hosting our Open Newsroom.

Meghann Farnsworth, distribution and online community manager - Actual Cafe, Oakland...

You decide: Vote on Open Newsroom location

March 10, 2011, 12:06 AM | Ashley Alvarado

Last week we asked you to send in suggestions on where to send at least one California Watch reporter for our next Open Newsroom, a quarterly happening when our staffers fan out to Wi-Fi hot spots across the state to meet with readers over a cuppa joe. We were thrilled with your responses, which came in via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter. Suggestions ranged from San Francisco to Fresno, South LA and the Santa Cruz Mountains. 

You spoke, and we listened. We’ve combed through your submissions and selected five towns. Now it’s up to you to vote on your top choice. We’ll announce the winning city next week, and on March 28 a California Watch staffer will be at a coffeehouse there from 9 a.m. till noon.



Help plan our Open Newsroom

February 28, 2011, 12:05 AM | Ashley Alvarado

Next month California Watch reporters, editors and interns will once again spread out to coffeehouses across the state for an Open Newsroom event. We’re still narrowing down the locations, but there’s one thing we’ve decided: the guest of honor, and that’s you!

From 9 a.m. till noon on March 28, we’ll set up shop in Wi-Fi spots with the sole purpose of getting to connect with our readers. We are looking forward to meeting all of you, hearing about your communities and any tips you may have for California Watch investigations.

Now we need you to help us decide where to go. While many of our staffers will select their own location, we want you to pick at least one spot. Where would you like to meet up? Please e-mail your suggested cities – or coffeehouses – to aalvarado@californiawatch.org or @ mention @alvaradoCW with the hashtag #opennews by March 7. We’ll select our top five spots and open it up to a vote. 




A post-mortem on the 'Post Mortem' social media outreach

February 10, 2011, 11:32 AM | Meghann Farnsworth

How many social media coordinators does it take to promote a yearlong investigation between four media organizations? Distribution and Online Community Manager Meghann Farnsworth reports on the social media outreach around the Post Mortem partnership series.

California Watch launches new media network

January 28, 2011, 1:08 AM | Mark Katches

California Watch is making a little news today. We’re announcing new partnerships to distribute our investigative journalism.

With many of the state’s best and biggest newspapers aboard, we have launched the California Watch Media Network. It represents a step forward in the development of our business model and in our collaborative approach to watchdog reporting.

Last year we produced more than 40 investigative and enterprise stories – journalism that made a significant impact. We produced stories that changed laws, prompted policy reform and even led to a criminal arrest.

Our staff, the largest investigative reporting team in California, also generated more than 1,200 news posts, a mix of breaking news, enterprise and analysis. We sold our stories and news posts last year individually as “one-offs” to 80 different news outlets, charging low introductory rates. This year, we’re offering our content as a package deal to a limited number of media outlets. Most members of the network will have access to a set number of stories – as well as access to our daily news posts. You can read the full press release about our new network here...

Meet Sunny, the newest member of our watchdog team

January 20, 2011, 12:07 AM | Ashley Alvarado

Deanna Ewers/California Watch 

The wait is over. For the past two weeks, we’ve been asking our readers – on our website, Twitter and Facebook pages – to help us name our brand new children’s mascot.

Crowdsourcing can be tricky, and we didn’t know what to expect. But we were pleasantly surprised as dozens of thoughtfully picked-out names poured in after our initial Inside the Newsroom post. Last week we announced our top three choices: Sunny, Digger and Scout. And now I’m thrilled to announce we have a winner.

Meet Sunny. A clear favorite, Sunny earned 59 percent of your votes. Digger followed with 22 percent and Scout with 16 percent.

And we couldn't be more thrilled with our readers' choice. 

"The name is optimistic, hopeful and sweet. And I can’t think of a better name to fit with our iconic sunshine logo at California Watch,” California Watch editorial director Mark Katches said.

This furry fellow was created to help explain complicated issues to kids, and he’ll make his official debut in a coloring book this spring. The picture at left is just one of the many illustrations that will grace its pages...

Our new mascot: Vote on the final 3 names

January 13, 2011, 12:05 AM | Ashley Alvarado

Deanna Ewers/California Watch

This California watchdog is one step closer to getting a name.

Earlier this month, we turned to you for suggestions for what we should christen our new children’s mascot. Dozens of name ideas poured in. Some were funny. Some were sweet. Some were ridiculous. (Sorry, Cadaver Canine is a no-go.) All were appreciated.

Among those monikers – which ranged from Watson to Dewey and McWatch – there were many standouts, including Safety Help Dog, an idea from one 6-year-old reader.

Narrowing the field to three was no easy task, but in the end we settled on Sunny, Digger and Scout. All three are wonderfully kid-friendly, playful and meaningful. Woodward, a shout-out to one of the best investigative reporters of all time, nearly made it, but we preferred gender-neutral names. 

So now it is time to vote for your favorite choice. I look forward to reading your input:

The voting will remain open for one week. Please remember to check back next Thursday, Jan. 20, when we announce the winning name on our Inside the Newsroom blog. And stay tuned as we continue to share updates on our mascot’s development and the progress of our first-ever coloring book...

Help name our new children's mascot and win

January 3, 2011, 12:06 AM | Ashley Alvarado

California Watch is adopting.

Starting this spring, there’ll be a new California watchdog looking out for the littlest of our readers. Appearing first in an educational coloring book – and later in downloadable activity pages, maybe even cartoons – this cute, friendly and sharp addition to our team will help explain complex issues to kids.

The idea for a mascot was born in an editorial meeting. While our articles are written for adults, many times children are those most affected by the injustice or mismanagement we uncover. Kids deserve to be clued-in and given the information necessary to stay as safe as possible – whether we’re talking about dangerous candies to avoid, healthy eating habits or emergency preparedness. What better way to reach them than with a furry fellow who could be fun and educational, a buddy and a teacher?

So we decided to create a character children could relate to and trust and that would carry out the California Watch mission: to expose wrongdoing and arm Californians with the information needed to debate solutions and spark change...

Public Insight Network fuels California Watch reporting

December 27, 2010, 12:05 AM | Ashley Alvarado

This week, California Watch published the latest in a series of maternal health articles by reporter Nathanael Johnson. In the story, "As early elective births increase so do health risks for mother, child," Johnson finds that women are giving birth sooner than ever. The time a fetus spends in the womb has dropped by seven days during the past two decades.

The piece is the product of the California Watch and the Center for Investigative Reporting’s new partnership with American Public Media’s Public Insight Network, which provides more than 96,000 individuals from across the country a direct channel for sharing their knowledge, experiences and insights with our reporters. The Public Insight Network allows us to have access to these potential sources, as well as the technology to identify trends and collaborate with other journalists nationwide.

Last month, we asked parents in the Public Insight Network to share their experiences with cesarean sections. The questionnaire elicited responses from more than 300 women, many of whom said their doctors had suggested early births. And you’ll be able to read about their experiences in Johnson’s article...

VIDEO: Montgomery expands collaboration with radio outlets

December 20, 2010, 12:05 AM | Mandy Hofmockel

As a radio producer for KQED and California Watch, Michael Montgomery brings stories to the radio and the web.


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