Changes at Voice of OC

I’m proud to announce that this week I’ll be ending my tenure as Voice of OC’s Editor-in-Chief and moving into the role of Publisher.

It’s time for me to focus on building the business end of our community newsroom.

I will retain my seat on the Voice of OC board of directors, and after nearly a decade of reporting on Orange County government and politics, I’ll be launching a weekly investigative column looking at the major issues impacting our region.

Managing Editor David Washburn will assume the title of Editor and continue his excellent work leading our dedicated staff of reporters focused on city hall accountability and the impact of public policy on community health.

In the five years since we launched, Voice of OC has proven itself as a reliable source for residents who need real-time information about what’s really going on inside their city halls. We believe our dedication and focus is why our monthly readership has expanded steadily despite a small marketing budget.

We’ve also fought hard for First Amendment rights at the local level, challenging bad practices at public agencies regarding access to records and meetings as well as records retention policies.

Our efforts have led to state and national recognition, with press awards and grants from journalism foundations such as The California Endowment, the  John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism and the Orange County Community Foundation.

Our hope is that my weekly column will spark an even greater demand for accountability from our leaders and spur engagement across Orange County around civics. I’ll also work with a large contingent of ever-expanding community columnists and other engagement leaders, helping focus their energy directly onto their respective city halls and public agencies.

I look back with deep pride at everything we have accomplished as journalists to not only craft real-time transparency but also to help keep a better historical record of our civic life together.

But I realize our work is far from done. We will continue to hone our municipal news coverage model and expand our efforts to provide interested residents the opportunity to truly engage with their government leaders and help craft a better quality of life for their families.

To accomplish these goals, we need you to keep reading Voice of OC and lend us your financial support.

Invest in transparency.

Please contact Norberto Santana, Jr. directly at

  • Roger Butow

    Maybe your first column should be a self-investigation regarding your almost 100% blackout of South OC? Wassup with that? I’ve repeatedly tried to get you & your staff to engage, sent you heads up regarding breaking issues of possible interest. We’re like the flipping dark side of the moon, basically ZERO coverage. You & your staff, though getting my email blasts, encouraging you politely to do what you purport you’re committed to, covering ALL of the County, never even respond with a “No Thank You” or “Roger, give us more info, tell us why our readers should be made aware of this.” Everything is geo-centric, focused on central and northern OC. And because we’re behind the same Orange Curtain as the rest of the County, there’s TONS of mischief and mayhem, controversial skullduggery…..And hey, guess what, many of us in South OC still read you online but sit in a media black hole. There’s a niche market you haven’t explored or exploited for $$$ too. Why would we financially support you if we’re ignored. I bet you won’t post this, but it’s true: Don’t criticize others shortcomings if you’re not thick-skinned enough to be criticized. Admit it, right now you’re the Voice of Central/North OC. Get hip, give us more South OC coverage and you’ll see a spike in your website hits, probably more donations. Otherwise, like Pink Floyd sang, see you on the dark side of the moon, and hello, Norberto, is there anybody in there?

    • 6eaie2

      the only reason VOC hasn’t expanded its geographical coverage is that it lacks the funding for additional journalists–notice they don’t accept advertising of any kind and are largely funded by non-profit grants and generous individuals. There are two main consequences to that business model: not being able to hire more writers and total disregard for offending business contacts who would otherwise be paid advertisers.

      The latter is why VOC is so special: they are totally un-compromised, unlike many media institutions and even some well-respected news organizations.

    • Steve W.

      Why the blackout on South OC coverage? Some food for thought: the OC Employees Association has given more than $800K to the Voice of OC as of 2012 and who knows how much since (the Voice hasn’t published financial disclosures for the last three years). Voice coverage tends to focus on county government (where most OCEA members work) and cities with OCEA-affiliate unions (Anaheim, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Garden Grove). Just sayin’

      • Roger Butow

        Don’t some of these employees live in South OC? And I thought that there’s a website for 501 non-profits where they disclose income & expenditures for transparency? So you’re saying they’re really the Voice of OC Government? :+) :+) :+)

  • 6eaie2

    Without you, my friend, the arrogance of OC power would go unchecked and undiscovered by us all. I’m glad you’ll be sort of a free-agent while growing the fine institution VOC has become and happy for David, too–he’ll be a fine editor-in-chief.

  • Kudos, Norberto! This is GREAT news for the Voice of OC. You’ve got some serious bench strength with David Washburn jumping into your still-warm seat – can I say it that way? 🙂 Congrats to all.

  • Cynthia Ward

    Congratulations, sir, well earned. Now how do we get Voice of OC to purchase what is left of the OC Register and start using it to report the NEWS again? You want to increase voter turnout? Give every voter in OC the link to this website, when they see what is happening, they will vote. Believe me.