We’re looking for the best and brightest to help us solve the toughest riddle of our time.

Figuring out how to transition our local civic news ecosystem from print into digital, from for-profit to nonprofit.

The stakes — your quality of life — couldn’t be higher.

Without an effective and independent check, government often runs amok, especially at the local level.

Think Bell, Ca.

Now when Voice of OC was founded back in the summer of 2009, amidst the financial crisis, our board of directors staked out the premise that a strong local press provides an effective check on power.

We were right.

Our daily coverage, sustained through eight years and more than 8,000 stories, continues to amaze people at what a small motivated newsroom can produce.

The New York Times and the Columbia Journalism Review have pointed to Voice of OC as a bright spot on the nation’s local media landscape. Our reporters also have been consistently recognized by national journalism foundations as well as by numerous industry awards.

But we can’t do it alone.

Join us.

Our newest board member, Daily Pilot Columnist Barbara Venezia, will head up a special advisory board to the Publisher that will meet in intimate settings several times a year to discuss how well the newsroom is covering the community – what’s being done right, what stories are being missed.

Advisory board members, who will contribute $1,000 annually, will be made up from a cross section of Orange County, choc full of civic, business and labor leaders from all walks of life and corners of the county.

The hope is that together, we can create a sustainable economic base to allow a sustained level of civic reporting to occur at our city halls and county government ensuring that every resident and citizen is getting the most out of their tax dollars.

At the same time, by bringing together the best and brightest from across Orange County, our hope is that we can also be consistently mining the best business and organizational ideas for keeping our newsroom fiscally sustainable as well as civically relevant.

Anyone interested in participating in the advisory panel should contact our Development Director, Meg Waters, at mwaters@voiceofoc.org

Our effort is tied to a national fundraising campaign, NewsMatch, spearheaded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund and the MacArthur Foundation, which have all come together to fund a special matching grant opportunity for selected newsrooms, which have been vetted for transparency and credibility.

Voice of OC was among 130 newsrooms across America selected to participate in the matching grant program.

Through Dec. 31, any individual contribution made to Voice of OC will be matched up to $1,000 by a special fund established by the foundations.

We also have a special donor who has agreed to also match the first 10, $1,000 contributions – creating a 3-1 match opportunity for those donors who come out first.

Starting today, readers will notice a banner ad across our website advertising the special opportunity to invest in Orange County’s nonprofit newsroom.

Each week through the end of the year, we’ll also be running Inside the Newsroom posts and ads reminding readers about how their donor funds have been used effectively this past year as well as what our funding priorities are for 2018.

You’ll read about our collective efforts to hold government accountable. We’ll also be talking about our efforts to create more vibrant city pages in the next year to help ensure everyone’s city hall is covered. You’ll also hear about our plans to expand our mobile platform strategy.

In addition, readers will also see us showcase our Op-ed section and emerging civic training programs, which both can really help protect against political echo chambers in our local politics, ensuring that we encourage a variety of intelligent voices, working together to figure out how to best protect and enhance our quality of life.

Next Spring, we’ll follow up these efforts with a general membership program to help ensure we’re able to offer every resident better ways of staying connected to their civic life and the newsroom, as well as helping finance the nonprofit newsroom’s overall operations.

After eight years as Publisher and countless journalism conferences talking about the future of media, I’ve come to a solid conclusion.

Local newsrooms of the future have to be hardwired into their communities – both to be relevant and to be financially sustainable.

That starts at city hall, which is the toughest newsroom beat to cover on a daily basis for any reporter.

These reporters need constant training. They also need legal and editing back up.

That helps them be there for you and your family.

Contributing to fund a stable newsroom is the best way to be there for them.

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.

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