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For now a second year in a row Voice of OC journalists have been honored with Online Journalist of the Year in Greater Los Angeles.
County reporter Nick Gerda was given the honor Sunday evening for his work in 2018 by the Los Angeles Press Club and Publisher Norberto Santana, Jr. won the honor the previous year.
Judges recognized Gerda’s stand-out work unraveling the bureaucracy in government spending, chronicling quality of life issues such as homelessness and mental health, holding government accountable to be transparent with the public as expected by law, laying out the realities of campaign finance during elections and tackling in-depth investigative stories on local policy-making and elected officials.
“Nick Gerda is truly a passionate defender of the voiceless. His work is admirable proof of commitment to investigation and the truth. Gerda recognizes some of the most important issues in his community with a powerful voice, making him a standout and deserving choice for Online Journalist of the Year,” the group of peers judging the awards contest commented on Gerda’s work.
Gerda started at Voice of OC in 2011 and has continued to knock out of the park huge stories on systemic problems in the county’s mental health system, sophisticated looks at how the Disney corporation campaign contributions influenced recent elections in Anaheim, revealed evidence of elected leaders using their official powers to apparently pressure government contractors into donating to their election campaigns.
“The LA Press Club judges saw what we all know about Nick. He cares deeply about people and isn’t afraid to seek the truth,” said Voice of OC Publisher Norberto Santana, Jr. “Year after year, all of us in Orange County have watched Nick grow into one of our region’s best reporters and our quality of life is better because of his efforts. His journalism truly makes a difference and we are all proud to work alongside him,” Santana said.
Voice of OC staff reporters and editors also were finalists across several categories for this year’s LA Press Club Awards, winning awards in five different categories.
Norberto Santana, Jr. won second place in the online columnist category for work leading the discussion on accountability in Orange County government, how a lack of progress on homelessness is tragic and illuminating a federal judge’s role in shaping homelessness policy.
Santana also won second place in the local political commentary category for his series of columns challenging the Anaheim Police Department on its approach to transparency and the First Amendment.
The Voice of OC news team won third place in the social media category for live and thoughtful round-the-clock updates on Election Day, into the next morning and persistently for weeks of counting on the 2018 general election.
Reporter Spencer Custodio won third place in the general hard online news category for his reporting following homeless people who would no longer have shelter as the National Guard armories closed in Santa Ana and Fullerton.
Voice of OC won third place in the best online news website category.