Two years ago this week, we launched Voice of OC with a simple idea: Local government news should be held in a community trust — a nonprofit — that produces fair and comprehensive coverage of crucial civic issues that face our region and individual communities.
Our goal has never been to replace the local newspaper but rather to make sure that Orange County has an independent news source that holds power brokers and policymakers accountable and lets people know what's really going on inside their city halls. In short, we wanted to give the people of Orange County a baby monitor for their local government.
The plan is working.
Since our launch, we've published more than 1,800 articles — all focused on issues relating to good government and public policy — that have lead to real and lasting change.
Our local government coverage has forced the leaders of Irvine, Santa Ana, Anaheim, the Orange County Fair Board and the Orange County Transportation Authority to reform their open-government polices and become more transparent.
Our healthy communities coverage has helped local service organizations protect funding sources for underserved communities, highlighted the significant challenges county leaders face as they work to end homelessness and shown the important role parkland plays in a community's health.
Our Community Editorial Board has become a gathering place for people from all ends of the political spectrum to not only voice their own views on the important issues of the day but also to gain insight into what the other side thinks and feels.
On election nights we've turned the plaza next to downtown Santa Ana's Santora building into an election central that draws local political heavyweights from both sides of the aisle.
Our accomplishments are not going unnoticed. The Orange County Press Club recognized Voice of OC last year for our journalistic excellence, and earlier this year we were asked to showcase our innovative coverage and revenue models at the international South by Southwest conference in Austin.
But more importantly, the people of Orange County are noticing Voice of OC's work. We've gone from just over 20,000 unique monthly visitors during our first month in operation to nearly 60,000 today — more than the capacity of Angel Stadium.
Our reach is bound to expand exponentially through our content partnership with the Associated Press, which last year selected Voice of OC and a dozen other outlets to create a nonprofit news feed to the state’s major newsrooms.
Additionally, we want to thank our local news partners at PBS SoCal, who have believed in Voice of OC since our launch and continue to be great collaborators, and the Los Angeles NPR outlet KPPC, which has made us a part of the OC Journalists Roundtable on Larry Mantle’s AirTalk.
And we owe a hearty thanks to Terry Francke and the people at Californians Aware, who advocate daily for the First Amendment and have assisted Voice of OC in fighting for people's right to get information from and about their government.
None of this could have happened without the enduring support of our key supporters, which include the Orange County Employees Association, the California Endowment and local philanthropist Wylie Aitken.
Beyond his generous contributions, Aitken is leading our diverse board of directors along with John Cruz, a key leader of the Republican New Majority and former appointments secretary to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Joining them in an ongoing effort to make Voice of OC a permanent part of Orange County's media landscape is our founding chairman, former state Sen. Joe Dunn, retired businessman Stanley F. Tkaczyk, former Los Angeles Times Editor Bob Magnuson, Republican fundraiser Mario Rodriquez and artist Loren Blackwood.
Trust that Voice of OC's newsroom and its board of directors will not let up in our mission to make Orange County government more responsive and more accountable to its people.
You can play a big part as well.
Please click on the Donate Now button at the top of our website to send us — and your community — a birthday gift that will reap rewards for years to come.