Voice of OC announces today the selection of Brandon Pho to join its reporting team as part of the huge Report for America effort to place 225 journalists in more than 160 local news organizations in the United States.

Pho has been selected for Voice of OC’s new reporting position to cover cities in North and Central Orange County.

Brandon Pho. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

Report for America will cover half of the reporter’s salary while Voice of OC will cover one-quarter of the salary and will need to seek local and regional funders to contribute the remaining quarter of the salary.

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Pho started at Voice of OC as a reporting intern in June 2018 and is presently a reporting fellow. He graduates from Cal State Fullerton this spring.

Pho’s work has been awarded by the LA Press Club, Society of Professional Journalists and the California College Media Association. He is exemplary for his ability to transfer complex local government matters into captivating human stories. Pho’s work at Voice of OC includes the OC Fair, Santa Ana, housing and transportation.

“Adding on another reporter at this critical time makes a big difference in our newsroom. We’re incredibly excited to bring on Brandon as a full-time staff writer after his amazing work as an intern and reporting fellow these last few years and honored to be selected as a participating newsroom for such a ground breaking effort to lift up American journalism.”

– Voice of OC Publisher and Editor in Chief Norberto Santana, Jr.

These reporting positions come at a time when local journalism is already reeling from years of newsroom cuts and unforeseen challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. They also mark a major expansion from the current corps size of 59, of whom, more than 90 percent are returning.

Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities through its reporting corps. It is an initiative of the nonprofit news organization, The GroundTruth Project. Journalists start in June and reflect wide ranging backgrounds of the communities they will serve.

“It’s now crystal clear that the need for trustworthy, accurate, and local information can be a matter of life and death,” said Steven Waldman, co-founder and president of Report for America. “This surge of reporters should help meet this moment.”

Today, Report for America also announced a new round of support from the Facebook Journalism Project. Facebook is a leading supporter of the program and their latest contribution of $2.5 million will help scale the corps at this tremendous time of need for local news.

“Local journalists are providing us with an extraordinary public service 24 hours a day,” said Campbell Brown, VP, Global News Partnerships, Facebook. “We all need to understand how the virus is impacting the communities where we live—it’s vital information that’s helping keep our friends and families safe, and we’re proud to support Report for America in this effort.”

Report for America co-founder Charles Sennott, CEO of GroundTruth, said, “We’re grateful to all of our funders who are allowing us to answer a great need across the country for trusted local news and to restore journalism from the ground up in communities across the country.”

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