Voice of OC won top recognition from the nation’s top press clubs earlier this month at the annual OC Press Club awards at the Anaheim Hills Country Club. 

The newsroom’s quick response last year to the collapse of the Anaheim Angel Stadium sale in the wake of scathing FBI affidavits about city hall dealings won First Place recognition in four major categories alongside the region’s largest media outlets, including the David McQuay Award for Best Columnist, Best News Story and Best Politics story.

The newsroom’s Hosam Elattar earned distinction for the county’s Best Religion story for his engaging look at the first Ramadan following the pandemic. 

The judges noted his, “Beautiful writing,” commenting that Elattar, “weaves a moment in time while explaining centuries-old tradition.”

Last year’s investigative look at the role of Anaheim’s Chamber of Commerce at city hall  – compared by judges with the Robert Moses classic, Power Brokers – followed on the award-winning breaking news coverage of the FBI Corruption Scandal in Anaheim and earned second place for Best Investigative News Story and an Honorable mention for Best News Feature story.

“An impressive dive into power corrupting Anaheim. The opening line hooked me, and I knew I needed to finish this story.” wrote the judge. “My thoughts drifted to a long ago college read of ‘The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York.’ Pho and Elattar are doing their job — checking the power of powerful organizations that have, without much resistance, grabbed far too much power.”

Publisher and Editor and Chief, Norberto Santana Jr took home the David McQuay Award for Best Columnist.

“The columns are well-sourced and researched, and are written with heart. His issues he wrote about may have been ignored or underplayed by other media but were interesting, important and had a community impact.” wrote the judges looking at Santana’s work. 

Civic Editor Spencer Custodio and Reporter Hosam Elattar’s story, FBI Reveals What Many Anaheim Residents Felt For Years, City Hall is Run By The Chamber of Commerce, also earned distinction.

“Wow! Stunning saga of corruption in local government and its impacts on residents. Comprehensive, well-sourced story,” wrote judges about the newsroom’s reporting and writing. 

Custodio and Elattar were also recognized with Best Political Story for, Disney’s PAC Continues Spending Big To Sway Voters in Anaheim.

“This entry stood out for its clear, informative coverage of a local issue and local players in an election where engaged voters can make a real difference without being overshadowed by the national political divide that dominates political coverage today,” wrote the judges.

Noah Biesiada’s work covering the OC Power Authority was also recognized with a second place finish in Best Beat Reporting.

The judges noted his, “dogged coverage of a bureaucratic scandal that had widespread impact.”

Biesiada and Tracy Wood Fellow, Angelina Hick took second place for Best Breaking News Story for their story, Mission Viejo Appoints City Manager to Run the Town After Judge Boots Council Majority.

“An engaging, easy-to-read story about a complicated issue.” said the judges.

Every year, all entries are judged by members of Press Clubs in other news markets. This year’s entries were judged by members of the Milwaukee Press Club, the Press Club of Cleveland, the Idaho Press Club and the Florida Press Club.

For the complete list of winners, you can visit the OC Press Club.

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