Voice of OC Lauded with Five 1st Place Wins in OC Press Club Awards

Voice of OC

The Voice of OC staff and Board Chairman Wylie Aitken at the 2019 Orange County Press Club Awards Dinner.

Voice of OC continues to emerge as one of the nation’s top nonprofit newsrooms, earning a record 14 wins at the recent Orange County Press Club awards dinner, including five, 1st place wins in the newspaper contest’s top categories such as Best Column, Investigations, Music Reviews, Infographics and Feature Writing.

Publisher Norberto Santana, Jr., was honored for the third year in a row with the David McQuay Award for Best Columnist, with judges highlighting what makes his reporting so special. 

“More than his ability to deliver well-written and well-thought out prose, the reporting Santana does is deep, targeted and human. The issues he tackles are not easy and he lets no one off the hook. It’s what columnists are supposed to do. And great columnists do over and over and over.”

Santana was recognized for columns challenging agencies like the Anaheim Police Department, the Orange County Board of Supervisors, the Orange County Fairgrounds as well as regional policies on homelessness.

In addition, Voice of OC was recognized with the best Investigative coverage of the year by County Reporter Nick Gerda – also a finalist for Journalist of the Year in the LA Press Club awards later this month – earning 1st Place recognition for his work tracking the dark money campaign contributions that dominated the 2018 historic congressional election.

This is Voice of OC’s fourth time winning 1st Place win for Best Investigative Story, and our sixth win in the category overall.

Digital Editor Sonya Quick also earned First Place recognition for her graphics alerting readers to stark indicators about the rising cost of living in Orange County amidst stale wages.

Arts Editor Paul Hodgins won First Place for Best Music/Entertainment review for his mixed review of the South Coast Rep season opener with Voice of OC arts writers, Timothy Mangan and Peter Lefevre rounding out the rest of the category wins. 

Healthy Communities Editor Amy De Paul won a First Place for Best Cannibus Coverage for her reporting on how seniors have transitioned from opiates to cannibus products to address health issues.

JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

Voice of OC’s awards distributed at the 2019 OC Press Club Awards Dinner.

The nonprofit newsroom’s total of 14 winning entries eclipsed its previous best, which was seven wins last year, recognizing stories published in 2017.

Voice started winning awards at the OC Press Club in 2011’s Best Investigative Story category — with 1st place for Tracy Wood and Adam Elmahrek’s “Questions Swirl Around Water District Director’s Expense Reports” and 2nd place for Wood’s “Dealing for DNA.”

Thanks to the continued financial support of our community donors, Voice of OC has really been able to grow this type of news coverage on civics, quality of life issues, arts & culture, investigations, infographics and feature writing.

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OC Press Club Winning Entries

Awards given on June 20, 2019, for work published in 2018.

David McQuay Award for Best Columnist – 1st – Norberto Santana, Jr. Publisher Norberto Santana, Jr., was awarded the David McQuay Award for Best Columnist. He was awarded for this series of columns on local government, transparency and community quality of life issues.

Best Investigative Story – 1st – Nick Gerda – “Millions in ‘Dark Money’ Flowing to OC Congressional Races”

Best News Story – 2nd – Spencer Custodio – “OC Sheriff’s Deputies Begin Evicting Hundreds of Homeless People from Santa Ana River Bank”

Best Breaking News Story – 2nd – Spencer Custodio and Nick Gerda – “DA Files Campaign Sign Theft Charges Against Former Fullerton Candidate” and 3rd – Spencer Custodio “Irvine, H.B. and Laguna Niguel to Sue County Over Homeless Shelters”

Best Public Affairs Story – 2nd – Nick Gerda – “County Won’t Name Everyone Who Broke Campaign Money Laws”

Best Infographic – 1st – Sonya Quick – “Orange County is 2nd Largest in Differential Between Income and Cost of Living”

Best Photo Slide Show – 2nd – Julie Leopo – “Orange County Honors Veterans at Heroes Hall”

Best Cannabis Coverage – 1st – Amy DePaul – “Opioid Addiction a Senior Problem in Orange County”

Best Use of Multimedia – 2nd – Norberto Santana, Jr. and Susan Valot – “On OC: OC Kids on Immigration”

Best Music/Entertainment Review – 1st – Paul Hodgins – “South Coast Rep’s Season Opener Plays With a Classic and Gets Mixed Results” and 2nd – Timothy Mangan – “Living Composers Reign During Choral Arts Initiative Concert” and 3rd – Peter Lefevre – “The Chorale Brings ‘The Creation’ to Segerstrom … Finally!”

Best Arts & Culture Story – 2nd (tie) – Richard Chang – “Ann Phong Turns Discarded Objects Into Art”