Welcome to Voice of OC. We are a nonprofit organization dedicated to producing hard news about politics and government in Orange County.

We use the tools our democracy gives us to get at what is really happening in every nook and cranny of the county’s mega-government agencies and it’s 34 cities from San Clemente to La Habra.

And when we uncover news, we don’t mince words. We write with the authority that comes from our hard work and expertise in politics and government.

In many respects, we are a response to the dire situation facing the news media today. Newspapers and broadcast outlets — including those that serve Orange County — have suffered tremendous staff reductions in recent years. As a result, there are far fewer journalists keeping watch on the county’s powerbrokers than there should be.

In short, the county’s residents need more boots on the ground. More reporters showing up at city halls. More questions being asked of those elected or selected to serve the public.

Our primary goal is to give readers actionable intelligence on the government agencies their tax dollars pay for. Sometimes it will be in the form of a standard news story, other times it will be a two-paragraph post or a three-question Q&A. When it’s warranted, we will write long-form investigative stories.

Beyond our standard news coverage, Voice of OC will serve the public through our “Who Says You Can’t Fight City Hall” section. Through this section our reporters and editors will essentially take readers along for the ride as they fight for information on behalf of the public.

We’ll also offer tips and insights on how residents can best take advantage of state and federal sunshine laws. And we’ll profile residents who have successfully used these laws to hold government accountable.

Ultimately, we see ourselves growing into a civic institution — a home to the key public policy debates of the day and a one-stop shop for such things as campaign finance information and the voting records of elected officials.

In the early going, however, we will stay focused on hard-nosed, well-informed journalism. And though our staff is small, we have the experience and vigor to make a difference.

Editor-in Chief (and senior reporter) Norberto Santana, Jr. has been reporting on government and politics at both the local and national level for two decades. Before founding Voice of OC in 2009, Santana was a lead investigative reporter for the Orange County Register.

Managing Editor David Washburn has been writing and editing for daily newspapers since the early 1990s. He comes to Voice of OC directly from voiceofsandiego.org, one of the first, and most successful independent, nonprofit local news websites in the nation.

Senior writer Tracy Wood is a veteran of both the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register newsrooms. And as a reporter for United Press International, she was one of the few women assigned as a combat correspondent during the Vietnam War.

Staff writer Adam Elmahrek is a recent graduate of Cal State Fullerton’s school of journalism. As a student he worked an investigation into police secrecy laws for the California First Amendment Coalition.

We’ve set up Voice of OC as a non-profit so we can focus on the news and not the bottom line. We have a strong board of directors led by retired state Sen. Joe Dunn that is raising funds during the crucial early stages of our development. And thanks to trailblazers like voiceofsandiego.org, MinnPost.com and ProPublica, we have a proven model to follow.

We pledge to work hard on behalf of Orange County residents who care about how their local governments are run. And we welcome you along for the ride. Let us know how we are doing by commenting on our stories and/or writing letters to the editor.

And if you like what you see, please don’t hesitate to hit that donate now button on our header.

Thank you,

— Voice of OC

Since you've made it this far,

You are obviously connected to your community and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford. Our newsroom centers on Orange County’s civic and cultural life, not ad-driven clickbait. Our reporters hold powerful interests accountable to protect your quality of life. But it’s not free to produce. It depends on donors like you.

Join the conversation: In lieu of comments, we encourage readers to engage with us across a variety of mediums. Join our Facebook discussion. Message us via our website or staff page. Send us a secure tip. Share your thoughts in a community opinion piece.