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California Public Media Join Forces To Strengthen Voter Voices For 2016 Election

For the first time, California public media news organizations KQED in San Francisco, Capital Public Radio in Sacramento, KPCC in Los Angeles and KPBS in San Diego will come together in a groundbreaking collaboration to cover the 2016 elections in the nation’s most populous state. The partnership, named the California Counts Collaborative, will produce in-depth, unbiased, highly coordinated, multi-platform coverage and resources that voters can use to inform their decisions.

Why “California Counts”?

California is often a bellwether for challenges and solutions. California’s population and economy drive changes in governance, medical care, immigration, same-sex marriage and more. But most Californians aren’t voting. California ranks 41st in the nation for voter turnout. Whatever the reasons, many voters and candidates don’t feel that California counts.

The California Counts Collaborative will deploy reporters throughout the state to engage and involve Californians in the election. In cities and rural areas, reporters will speak with people who represent California’s demographic diversity as well as its economic divide.  The public media organizations hope to show residents how they are connected to the issues, to each other and to their elected officials.  The California Counts Collaborative hopes to give voters a greater voice in the election and to illustrate what’s at stake.

The California Counts Collaborative will include the following initiatives through the 2016 election cycle:

Activating California voters: Our team will use fresh, lively broadcast and digital storytelling approaches, social media and in-person engagement to connect with Californians who may be opting out of traditional politics and political coverage. Inspired in part by KPCC’s 2015 series #MakeAlCare, which focused on a single voter and engaged a broad audience in why elections matter, we will develop a coverage theme around voter participation as part of the larger collaborative effort.  The aim will be to cover these issues in an accessible way by reporting at ground level — through the experiences and views of individuals, neighborhoods or communities. These stories and voter resources will address what many see as a crisis for democracy by looking at what people care about, what motivates voting, what keeps people from participating and how voting fits into civic life for a new generation of Californians.

Digital Voter Guide:  The California Counts Collaborative will create an in-depth online voter guide that will encompass statewide races and initiatives. The guide will also include localized election information for the regions served by each partner station. It will be accessed via station websites

Ballot Propositions:  From a prohibition on plastic bags, to bi-lingual education in public schools and maybe even marijuana legalization, the California Counts Collaborative will produce radio and online stories that give Californians the essential, unbiased information they need to cast an informed vote on the measures appearing on the November ballot.

US Senate Race: The California Counts Collaborative will coordinate statewide coverage of this high profile race, tracking the candidates’ activities as they campaign around California and producing online and digital coverage. In addition, Capital Public Radio is partnering with the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact to create PolitiFact California. As part of this collaboration, their team will regularly fact-check the Senate candidates’ statements and political ads.

Resources:  Stations will pool resources for hosting debates, election results coverage and post-election analysis. By sharing assignments on national and state coverage, each newsroom will free up bandwidth for additional coverage of local issues and races. Voters have told the stations that they lack enough information on local races often to make fully informed decisions.

“Voters face too many campaign ads and sound bites, and not enough thoughtful coverage from a trusted source,” said Suzanne Marmion, Director of News and Editorial Strategy at KPBS. “Together, public stations can pool resources to bring voters relief from spin, plus information about the smaller local races that also shape our communities.”

“We’re excited about teaming up with these great partners to give people a lot more coverage of California’s stakes in this election — and giving a lot more voice to the concerns and needs of our state,” said Melanie Sill, Vice President for Content at KPCC.

“This collaboration harnesses the substantial editorial power of our four stations for the benefit of the entire state,” said Joe Barr, Chief Content Officer at Capital Public Radio. “It’s a prime example of how public media serves our communities in a way that no one else can.” 

“With so many people checking out of the political process, we hope to find out what people really care about, what issues affect their lives and figure out how to infuse our political coverage with the real concerns of Californians,” said Holly Kernan, Executive Editor for News at KQED public media.

To view this and other releases online visit capradio.org/press.



Bryce Eberhart 415.553.8451

Capital Public Radio
Ben Adler 916.930.9622

Melanie Sill 626.583.5198

Nancy Worlie 619.594.1746

About the California Counts Collaborative Stations


KQED serves the greater San Francisco Bay Area and beyond through public television, radio and digital services. It is among the top five public media stations in the nation by audience size.

Capital Public Radio is Sacramento’s public media outlet that serves more than 400,000 listeners a week on seven stations in Northern California and Western Nevada and 3.2 million listeners a week through the Capital Public Radio Network (CPRN).

KPCC reaches more than 700,000 listeners every week, Southern California Public Radio is the most listened-to public radio news service of any kind in Southern California. SCPR is a member-supported nonprofit organization that operates 89.3 KPCC in Los Angeles and Orange Counties and its repeater stations, 89.1 KUOR in the Inland Empire, 90.3 KVLA in the Coachella Valley and 89.5 KJAI - Ventura County. Additionally, SCPR operates translators at 89.9 in Santa Barbara and 93.3 in Palm Springs

KPBS is San Diego’s public media outlet. It serves over 1 million audience members weekly across TV, radio (89.5 FM and 97.7 FM Calexico) and the web.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio