Santana: A Voice to Rely on

JEFF ANTENORE, Voice of OC Contributing Photographer

Voice of OC Publisher Norberto Santana Jr. leads a class about civic engagement and opinion writing in the Voice of OC office in Downtown Santa Ana during a Media Summit on Wednesday, July 12, 2017.

I’ll never forget the feeling driving out of the Register building that day back in the summer of 2009, intent on standing up, doing something.

I had just publicly walked away from a good paying, stable job covering the County of Orange for the Orange County Register to found Voice of OC, a nonprofit newsroom focused exclusively on civics and accountability.

I was excited, pissed off and intent on making a difference.

R. Scott Moxley at the OC Weekly broke the story of my leaving, deftly capturing the scene of my Jeep roaring out of the now defunct Register’s parking building, which triggered an avalanche of calls from my colleagues questioning whether it was smart to leave a good job amidst imploding news empires and the worst economic times since the Great Depression.

I felt it was important to take a stand.

From hearing about my father’s own journey from Cuba for freedom and my own work in Central America, I knew I would someday have to face my then year-old son, Maximo, and answer his own questions about what I did during the great news crisis facing our nation.

Luckily, here in Orange County there has always been a vibrant community of donors from all sides of the political spectrum that get it.

Without an effective local newsroom there to check government every day, we are all dead people walking.

Now, if you regularly read Voice of OC, this is the time to join the very special ranks of our donors.

It’s the best way for you to stand up for your right to know.

Our nonprofit civic newsroom enables you to take action, no matter your political affiliation.

And thanks to the special folks at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Democracy Fund and the MacArthur Foundation, this month any contribution is matched up to $1,000 through a special program called, NewsMatch.

Under the Newsmatch program, about 130 verified newsrooms – like Voice of OC – across America are eligible for the special grant program. It’s part of a national movement by these foundations recognizing the achievements of local newsrooms and their importance to America’s civic ecosystem.

But NewsMatch runs out on Dec. 31.

So act now. Join us. Take a stand.

Our reporters are there for you every day, in the trenches of public agencies and city halls across Orange County. We need to expand their corps, ensuring that every single city is covered.

Real time accountability reporting is key to protecting our collective quality of life.

Our budgets are transparent. We run a very lean operation. Most of our hires are local and we maintain an active intern program for college journalism students seeking basic training. We also host civic training for community members on topics like budgets and public records requests.

In addition to our journalism and training efforts, we also litigate for public records when necessary, winning a total of three public access lawsuits in recent years, the most recent this past month in Westminster.

Most importantly, your donation demonstrates that communities can effectively finance strong, local, independent news organizations that in turn, stand there for them and their families on a daily basis.

  • frustrated

    Where are the local organizations? The ones that you have listed are all in other states. This is a very unfair practice when you’re looking for local employment.

  • frustrated

    Many of the places that I have been to that are supposed to have funding for the homeless are picking and choosing as to who those donations go to and one that I know of called SOS (Share Our Selves) has very limited resources and often times they have no funding, I can’t tell you how many times that I have been to the place asking for assistance only to overhear the reps on the phone that they are out of funding. They have too many clients and few resources to cover everyone or everything. They are simply overwhelmed.

  • frustrated

    Too Much Competition In The Marketplace:

    I have emails from employers where the employers turned me down for work because they told me that they had decided to ‘pursue other candidates’ without even seeing my face or calling me in for an interview thereby wasting my time in filling out the applications in the first place. I actually used to have an email from a college recruiter that told me that I had to have a real job in order to get one at a college and this was right here in OC, I went to a job fair hosted by Todd Spitzer a few weeks ago where they said in the paper that they had 51 employers that had thousands of jobs open at the Hyatt Regency in Irvine where the host did not even show up for the event and the table for OC was devoid of any reps for OC (the table was empty), I was there for about an hour to an hour and a half and I even took a list of the employers with me after I left and applied online for many of the employers that were there at that job fair and I have yet to hear from any of them so at this point I am wondering what they are doing with my info on my resume. I have been to many job fairs and have never recieved any jobs from any of them, I’m filling out applications on a daily basis and still get nothing but rejection letters and form mails from them. So they must be selling my info for advertising purposes or some other wierd reasoning, but that’s just speculation on my behalf, that’s the only thing I can suggest, and you said yourself that there have been alot of other candidates that are being considered, I will admit that I don’t have a consistant record but that is not my fault because I do my research and the economy is not in good shape. Yes I will admit there is some frustration and anger in my reasoning, but I suppose that it can be justified to a certain extent but it’s not aimed at you. A few years ago I even went to an EDD rep to have my resume redone and the person there asssited me with it and told me “in the process that many of these employers have their synopsises for thier job postings set way too high”, anywhere where it states as to how many years experience they are wanting that it says as much as “5 or more or as much as 10 years experience” and that is way too high, nobody that I know of has that much experience on most jobs, so why do they do things like that when it’s just plain wrong? It’s as if they don’t want anyone at all even when they are advertising. I have been passed over for jobs that I am qualified for.

    ** One employer that I went into pulled a stack of applications from under the desk that was at least 300 applications thick, how are you supposed to get hired when they can’t even hire one person out of 300 applications. I have 173+ applications filled out in my emails and no contacts.