This story first appeared in inewsource’s weekend newsletter. Sign up for it here.

Say hello to our director of data and visuals, Brandon Quester. You know all of the charts and databases we publish? Brandon is the person behind most of them. This week he updated two of our databases. Check them out here and here. All right. Enough from me and more about Brandon.

How long have you been with inewsource and what do you do?

I joined inewsource in January 2017, most recently from Arizona where I founded another nonprofit newsroom – the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting. I wear many hats at inewsource (we all do), but my primary role is managing our data initiatives – data analysis, visualizations and the overarching strategy behind our growing data-driven journalism efforts. I also help manage our visual content (I started my career as a photojournalist) and, of course, get to do good ol’ fashioned gumshoe reporting.

How do you define data journalism?

Data-driven journalism is about much more than numbers. It can be a tool to help guide reporters or it can become the foundation of a story, simplifying a complex series of data points into one or more unique findings. Data can even tell its own story through visualizations such as maps or graphics. At its core, though, data journalism is about reporting with precision.

Tell us something interesting about yourself!

I was born in the United States but spent my early years in Melbourne, Australia (pronounced Melbin). Sadly, I lost my Aussie accent years ago. Beyond journalism, I love being outside, so when time permits, you can find me rock climbing, backpacking or kayaking. Other fun facts: I’ve worked as a wilderness guide, wildland firefighter and spent a season in the backcountry with Olympic National Park.

Follow Brandon on Twitter (@bquester) or reach him by email (

Have a great weekend, and thanks for reading.  

High-profile donors loading up on Fletcher, Dumanis

Want to know who’s who in San Diego politics? Just look in the bank accounts of county supervisor candidates Nathan Fletcher and Bonnie Dumanis.

Several local and state politicians are donating lots of cash in their race.

For Dumanis, some of her donors include:

  • Former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders
  • County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar
  • Chief Deputy District Attorney Victor M. Nunez
  • Chairman of the Pala Band of Mission Indians Robert Smith
  • San Diego Habitat for Humanity President Lori Holt Pfeiler  

For Fletcher, some of his donors include:

  • San Diego Councilwoman Barbara Bry
  • San Diego Councilwoman Georgette Gomez
  • San Diego Assemblyman Todd Gloria
  • Santa Barbara Assemblywoman Monique Limon
  • Napa state Sen. Bill Dodd

Keep reading…

Track San Diego County campaign finance records

Tracking all of the money in the 2018 county elections is pretty darn difficult. Thankfully, we made it easy for you.

Our newly updated database has all of the most recent fundraising and spending by politicians, ballot measure groups and political action committees in San Diego County. It includes the two county supervisor contests that will be decided in November, as well as the district attorney and sheriff races that were settled in June.

The database has all of the  contributions, expenditures, debts and loans in county campaigns.

Wait, really?


Start following the money…

You asked about our investigations. And we answered.

Last week we asked you:

What is one question you have about any inewsource story?

The question is part of our ongoing series called The Weekly Ask – one short video each week that poses a question to you, our readers. Here are some of the questions you came up with:

  1. Why do the headlines for your stories often show the negative view of Democrats, while similar negative views of Republicans are buried deep in the articles? It’s almost like the writer will write an unbiased story, but the editorial board wants to highlight (or smear) one side.
  2. What’s going on with HiCaliber Horse Rescue?
  3. Do you require more than one independent source to confirm information before you publish?

Read our responses…

Watch the next video in the series (and leave a comment!)

Fundraising in the City Council races

Fundraising and campaign spending are picking up in the four San Diego City Council races.

District 2 is likely to see the most spending, where Democrats hope to unseat Republican incumbent Lorie Zapf. That would give them a veto-proof 6-3 majority on the council, if candidate Jen Campbell wins in November.

We partnered with KPBS reporter Claire Trageser for this story. Our data reporter Jill Castellano produced the graphics for the report and helped fact check the numbers.

Keep reading…

What’s behind the new SAT test scores

More than half of high school seniors in San Diego County who took the SAT in the 2016-2017 school year were deemed “college and career ready.”

But there’s more to the numbers.

In 2016, the College Board redesigned the SAT. The test had a new format, an updated scale and the penalty for guessing on answers was eliminated.

Because it’s a new test, comparing the latest results to previous years isn’t valid, but their still interesting to check out.

Keep reading…

Click here to search SAT scores by school…

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Shyla Nott was the digital content manager at inewsource. While at her role, she ran the website, social media accounts, and curated The Weekender newsletter. She came to inewsource by way of the Midwest where she was the producer for All Sides with Ann Fisher, a daily live public-affairs talk show at...