The impact of Voice of OC’s news team continues to be recognized by peers as amongst the best in the region and state, this week for columns, investigations, reporting and graphics in the Southern California journalism awards contest.

Voice of OC’s special brand of real time, locally-focused accountability journalism is recognized by judges as First Place across all platforms in Infographics and Hard News for coverage on rising law enforcement costs and last year’s police protests. 

Of note in the Infographic category, the Voice of OC daily Coronavirus data tracker – published every day since the start of the pandemic —  took second place across all platforms — only outdone by the newsroom’s own look at local police spending, which took First Place.  

Voice of OC Investigations, Column and Culture Reporting also drew First Place distinction among judges in the Online division for an expose about the official downplaying of Coronavirus numbers, columns detailing the impact of disasters like the pandemic and wildfires on local residents, and reporting on the controversy surrounding the renaming of historic sites across Orange County.

The contest, arranged by the Los Angeles Press Club and judged impartially, awarded Voice of OC’s news team its most wins yet in the competition stretching across southern California.

Judges recognized the work of Voice of OC journalists as “reveal(ing) the heart and soul of a community,” “stellar,” “smart” and “a strong, hyper-local look.”

These 2021 awards for work produced during the tense and headline-filled year of 2020 signal what Voice of OC donors already know — that this nonprofit newsroom remains committed to telling stories that are truly essential to the community’s quality of life. If you haven’t yet, please consider becoming a Voice of OC donor today.

View Voice of OC’s previous LA Press Club wins, in 2020 we earned top honors for political commentary and government reporting while Reporter Spencer Custodio was named one of the top five online journalists of the year; in 2019 Reporter Nick Gerda was named online journalist of the year; in 2018 Publisher Norberto Santana, Jr. was named online journalist of the year; in 2017 Voice of OC was honored as 1st place in news website design; and in 2016 Voice of OC first entered the competition earning awards in reporting.

2021 Voice of OC LA Press Club Awards

Here’s a complete run down of this year’s awards.

Investigative – Online, 1st Place | “The Downplaying of Orange County’s Coronavirus Numbers” (Stories: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) | By Spencer Custodio, Nick Gerda and Noah Biesiada | Judges commented:

“Data was so critical throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in understanding and controlling the spread of the virus in communities across the nation. This series of investigative reports from the Voice of OC underscored that point through fact checking public officials’ statements against data, putting on the record when data was withheld or obscured and helping readers better understand what the data is telling us. Stellar work.”

Columnist – Online, 1st Place | “Latinos in Santa Ana and Anaheim Confront a Day of the Dead Unlike Any Other,” “Did Faulty Power Equipment Drive 90,000 OC Residents from Their Homes?” and “Who Will Stand up for Santa Ana and Anaheim on Coronavirus Impacts?” | By Norberto Santana, Jr. | Judges commented:

“These articles reveal the heart and soul of a community while bringing the readers inside. Nothing short of a wonderful read.”

Culture News – Online, 1st Place | “Renaming Historic Sites Continues to Ignite Debate in Orange County” | By Richard Chang | Judges commented:

“A strong, hyper-local look at a national reckoning over the names of the buildings and places we frequent.”

Hard News – All Platforms, 1st Place | “Orange County Coastal Enclave Becomes Ground Zero of Police Violence Controversy and Protests” | By Brandon Pho and Julie Leopo | Judges commented:

“In the wake of George Floyd’s killing, almost every news organization in the nation started covering protests and crime in their cities in a new way. This piece, following the fatal police shooting of a Black homeless man in Orange County, clearly laid out the who, what, when, where and why. But it also provided important context about long-simmering tensions over homelessness in the community and how it fit into the broader movement happening across the nation.”

Infographics – All Platforms, 1st Place | “Increase in Cities’ OC Sheriff Contracts Since 2016” | By Sonya Quick and Nick Gerda | Judges commented:

“The sheriff protection costs graphics submitted for this entry tell a full story on their own. This was a perfect article to complement with interactive graphics, and the design and execution was on point too. The graphics add context and make smart comparisons about police spending.”

Infographics – All Platforms, 2nd Place (In addition to Voice of OC’s 1st place win in this category)| “Orange County CA Coronavirus Daily Tracker by City, New Cases and Hospitalizations” | By Sonya Quick

Website Design – Online, 2nd Place | By Sonya Quick

Page Design – All Platforms, 2nd Place | By Sonya Quick

Political Commentary – Online, 3rd Place | “Just One Vote Made the Difference in Brea’s Local School Board Race” | By Norberto Santana, Jr.

General News – Online, 3rd Place | “Young Black Organizers and Leaders Look to a New Orange County in Light of Protests” | By Brandon Pho

Entertainment News – Online, 3rd Place | “Stages Theatre, a Mainstay for 28 Years on the Local Theater Scene, Closes Its Doors” | By Joel Beers

News Feature, Culture – Online, 3rd Place | “In Wake of Raucous Protests, Santa Ana Residents Rally Around Clean Up” | By Brandon Pho and Julie Leopo

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