Knight Foundation logo

Knight Foundation logo

Summary: We are thrilled to announce that we are joining KQED in San Francisco and KPCC/Southern California Public Radio in Los Angeles in a project to crowdsource health-care prices in California, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation via its Prototype Fund.

The plan is to leverage the power of the three partners’ communities to shed light on the rising cost of health care, which is one of the biggest problems we face today as a nation. No one knows what things cost, because the marketplace is opaque. The partners in this project plan to address that by collecting and revealing prices via crowdsourcing, also called distributed reporting or participatory journalism.

We were among 17 new projects winning investment from the Knight Foundation in its most recent cohort.

“People should know what things cost in health care,” said Jeanne Pinder, founder and CEO of “We’ll use the power of our communities to reveal the secrets of the marketplace, and join hands to make this opaque system more transparent.”

Building on a WNYC pilot program

The proposal will to repeat and improve upon the crowdsourcing partnership conducted with the Brian Lehrer Show at WNYC public radio in New York — only this time, in California. In the WNYC pilot, hundreds of women shared mammogram prices, payments and thoughts about the health-care marketplace. We wrote a series of blog posts about it; here’s one and here’s another and another.

KQED and KPCC have deep traditions of engagement with their communities. Both have extensive experience in health reporting.

In the new Prototype Fund project, the partners will create and deploy tools to allow and encourage their communities to work together to collect and share prices for common procedures. It is envisioned as a six-month prototype.

“Sometimes you have a great idea, and you just need time, space and some capital to test it,” the Knight Foundation wrote in its announcement today. “Seventeen projects will get that chance as the latest recipients of Prototype Fund grants from Knight Foundation.

“The Prototype Fund is designed to give people with great concepts for media and information projects grants of $35,000 and six months to take their idea all the way to demo with a class of others facing a similar challenge. What can you learn in six months? Quite a bit.”

The organizations

The Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

KQED serves the people of Northern California with a community-supported alternative to commercial media, via its public radio, public television, interactive and educational services divisions. KQED provides citizens with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions; convenes community dialogue; brings the arts to everyone; and engages audiences to share their stories. For more, visit

Southern California Public Radio (SCPR) is a member-supported public media network that operates 89.3 KPCC-FM in Los Angeles and Orange County, 89.1 KUOR-FM in the Inland Empire and 90.3 KVLA in the Coachella Valley. SCPR’s mission is to strengthen the civic and cultural bonds that unite Southern California’s diverse communities by providing the highest quality news and information service through radio and other interactive media. For more, visit is a New York City startup bringing transparency to the health-care marketplace by telling people what stuff costs. Using a combination of shoe-leather journalism, database sourcing and curation, crowdsourcing and partnering, clearhealthcosts is revealing the secrets of an opaque marketplace, and seeking to help solve one of the biggest problems we face as a nation. For more, visit

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Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...