After three years of pandemic lockdown, Voice of OC is back out in the community attending in person events and sharing the important role journalism plays in a healthy community. 

In April, Santana accepted speaking invitations from three different community groups in the space of a week. 

First Stop: The Orange Coast League of Women Voters, April 19, 2023

Over 50 members gathered to hear Voice of OC Publisher, Norberto Santana Jr speak at the first Lunch with the League meeting since the pandemic shut down in person gathering in 2020.

“Norberto was so generous to join us as our distinguished speaker for our first Lunch with League in three years, said  Kathleen Montgomery,  International Relations Director for Orange Coast League of Women Voters and organizer of the luncheon.

“He is a truly inspiring model of how we can all work to improve our community and our world.” Montgomery said.  

In his remarks to the group, Santana reiterated the importance of an active citizenry in keeping the balance of power between the government and the people the government serves. He also stressed the importance for newsrooms that the community should see itself in local news coverage. When people have access to information in real time, it puts them in a position to be impactful and keep their community leaders accountable, he added.

Second Stop: 2023 Leadership Crisis Challenge – Argyros School of Business and Economics at Chapman University, April 22, 2023

How do you navigate crisis communications when faced with competing negative outcomes? 

That was the challenge that faced Chapman University business students participating in the university’s annual Leadership Crisis Challenge. 

This year’s participants faced the “crucible” experience of role playing various senior executives of AguaClara Global Beverages, a 1.6 billion-dollar beverage company with a new plant in North Dakota that is contaminating the local water supply. Residents are sick, including six babies.

There are no great outcomes, the survival of the beverage company is on the line–but real people are sick and dying. The four student teams faced two rounds. In the first round, students faced their “board of directors” and in the second,they faced the press.

Santana lead off a press panel giving these students a taste of what it is like to face a press corp trying to get to the truth. He was joined by Rick Reiff, Editor-at-Large for the Orange County Business Journal and Kaitlin Aquino, Reporter with the Orange County Business Journal.

Santana kept the students on their toes with questions regarding a potential whistleblower and a chummy relationship between local government and the company. 

Event organizer Aulton Kohn said students gave high reviews for the press conference experience, one they want to repeat next year and expressed gratitude “for the time that you gave to the students and the tough environment that you put the students through.”

“When Chapman asked me to assemble a “press pool” for the business school’s mock crisis management exercise, my first call went to Norberto.” said Rick Reiff, Editor-at-Large for the Orange County Business Journal. “ I was certain he’d be perfect in the role, and he did not disappoint!”

 “The student-executives got the real deal — a tough, probing, no-nonsense journalist who ripped apart their posturing and their talking points.” added Reiff. “ Yet in the debriefing afterwards he was gracious and instructive to those same students. They got an education, and watching my pal Norberto in action, so did I!”

Third Stop: Cal State Fullerton Comm Week 2023, April 26, 2023

Journalism students from Cal State Fullerton got a rare opportunity for an intimate Q&A session with Santana.

The “City and County Government” session was part of Cal State Fullerton’s annual Comm Week. Students were able to sit with the Publisher and ask questions about reporting on public affairs at the city and county level. Santana spoke to the importance of covering government actions and the mechanics of covering city, school districts and county government beats.

“After learning all about how the Voice of OC operates, and the important local news they provide, it definitely inspired many students (myself included) to think about where, how, and from whom we get our information from.” said Dexter Washington, Logistics Director for CSFU’s Comm Week.

“It’s always wonderful to connect with students and hear their critiques of news coverage as well as their smart questions about how to hold powerful institutions accountable in real time as journalists,” Santana. 

“Our next generation always inspires,” he added.

Final Stop: Reva and David Logan Symposium on Investigative Reporting, April 27-30, 2023

Ongoing training is always paramount at Voice of OC, helping sharpen analytical and writing skills among our newsroom’s reporters. 

This past month, the entire news team ended April by attending the 15th Annual Logan Symposium at the University of California Berkeley. 

The symposium brings together top investigative journalists from across the county. It’s an opportunity to share ideas and talk about critical issues facing the field. 

Sessions included “Is a Story A Crime? Prosecuting Journalists and Whistleblowers,” “Generative AI Opportunities and Threats” and “All Rise: Investigating the Supreme Court.”

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