Here is the complete list of the 2023 OC Press Club Award winners

Each year thousands of stories, photos, social media posts and more are generated by reporters around Orange County seeking to inform the public and hold officials accountable.

The Orange County Press Club is pleased to announce the complete list of winners and finalists for the 2023 OC Press Club Awards.

Best News Story

First place: Spencer Custodio and Hosam Elattar

FBI Reveals What Many Anaheim Residents Felt For Years, City Hall is Run By The Chamber of Commerce,” Voice of OC

Second place: Roxana Kopetman

Ukrainians arriving in U.S. through Tijuana,” OC Register

Third place: Scott Schwebke

Torrance woman recounts harrowing rape by alleged attacker hours after his release from jail,” Daily Breeze


Best News Feature Story

First place: Todd Harmonson

If the story of Super Bowl LVI was a movie plot, you wouldn’t believe it,” OC Register

Second place: Tony Saavedra

What Happened to Jack? Mystery over Texas boating death of OC teen finally unravels years later,” OC Register

Third place: Hannah Fry

After a Black student faced racist slurs, some wonder: Will O.C. ever change?” LA Times

Honorable Mention: Brandon Pho

Fallout From the FBI Corruption Probe Triggers a New Kind of Open Mic Night in Anaheim,” Voice of OC


Best Breaking News Story

First place: Staff of The Los Angeles Times

(Hannah Fry, Richard Winton, Laura Newberry, Jeong Park, Anh Do and Andrew J. Campa)

Churchgoers tackled, hogtied gunman after deadly Laguna Woods church shooting,” LA Times

Second place: Noah Biesiada and Angelina Hicks

Mission Viejo Appoints City Manager to Run the Town After Judge Boots Council Majority,” Voice of OC

Third place: Spencer Custodio

Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu Resigns After FBI Reveals Anaheim Corruption Probe,” Voice of OC


Best Investigative Story or Series 

First place: Scott M. Reid

UC Berkeley swimmers allegations against coach Teri McKeever,” OC Register

Second place: Brandon Pho and Hosam Elattar

What Made Anaheim’s Chamber Tick,” Voice of OC

Third place: Jeffrey Collins

Southern California housing plans contain ‘fake sites,’ lack analysis, critics say,” OC Register

Honorable Mention: Connor Sheets, Hannah Fry and Laura J. Nelson

Mater Dei football players allegedly sexually assaulted teammate, police record says,” LA Times


Best Beat Reporting 

First place: Brooke Staggs

Climate/environment coverage, OC Register

Second place: Noah Biesiada

OC Power Authority, Voice of OC

Third place: Hosam Elattar, Nick Gerda, Angelina Hicks and Brandon Pho

Hate on the Rise in OC, Voice of OC


Best Public Affairs Story

First place: Hannah Fry

Amid housing crunch, officials want Orange County to stay the way it is,” LA Times

Second place: Brooke Staggs

Lead spews from some Southern California airports; cleaner fuel is coming,” OC Register

Third place: Brandon Pho

Bladder Infections, Padded Underwear ‘Just Part of the Job’ for Some OC Bus Drivers, Say Those Decrying Bathroom Break Policies,” Voice of OC

Honorable Mention: Hosam Elattar and Angelina Hicks

Car Wrecks, Flooding and a Possible Sewage Leak: Life in a Westminster Mobile Home Park,” Voice of OC


Best Feature Story

First place: Roxana Kopetman

An Orange County couple and their newborn daughter escape Ukraine, one step at a time,” OC Register

Second place: Richard Simon

Newport Beach Lifeguards are Dedicated to Keeping Beachgoers Safe,” Newport Beach Independent

Third place: Anne Marie Panoringan

Panoringan: Finding New Foods by Living the Buy Nothing Lifestyle,” Voice of OC

Honorable Mention: Andrew Turner

Orange Coast College honors late coach, renames facility John Altobelli Park,” Daily Pilot


Best Long-Form Feature Story or Series

First place: Jeffrey Collins and Andre Mouchard

OC Register, Southern California aging boom

Second place: Priscella Vega

Inside one O.C. Mexican Catholic family, abortion still divides generations,” LA Times

Third place: Hosam Elattar

Little Arabia, Voice of OC

Honorable Mention: Tony Saavedra

Eroding beaches, OC Register


Best Political Story

First place: Spencer Custodio and Hosam Elattar

Disney’s PAC Continues Spending Big To Sway Voters in Anaheim,” Voice of OC

Second place: Andrew Turner

Ongoing rancor on Laguna Beach City Council turns uglier this election season,” LA Times


Best Round-Up or Best Of

First place: Richard Chang and Jessica Choi

A Vibrant Korean Community is Thriving in North O.C.,” Voice of OC

Second place: Edwin Goei

Chopstick-lickin’ good: Where to find Asian takes on fried chicken in Orange County,” Daily Pilot

Third place: Brad A. Johnson

Brad A. Johnson’s 75 Best Places to Eat in Orange County, 2022,” OC Register


Best Business Story

First place: Jeffrey Collins

Microgrid will let these Menifee homes keep lights on during outages,” OC Register

Second place: Breeana Greenberg

Monster Wave Puzzles Making a Splash at Local Surf Shops,” San Clemente Times

Third place: Christopher Trela

Newport Beach Entrepreneur Named Among Top 10 Fastest Growing Woman-Owned/Led Companies,” Newport Beach Independent


Best Arts/Culture Story

First place: Paul Hodgins 

Hodgins: O.C. Arts Groups Emerge From Pandemic With New Ideas and Strengthened Resolve,” Voice of OC

Second place: Richard Chang and Kim Pham 

“‘Yellow Submarine Rising’ Gives Asian American Artists a Platform to Speak and Shine,” Voice of OC

Third place: Ashley Ryan 

Cultivating Community Through Creativity,” Laguna Beach Magazine


Best Arts/Culture Review

First place: Timothy Mangan

London Symphony Orchestra Performs Blockbuster Program at Segerstrom with Mixed Results,” Voice of OC

Second place: Paul Hodgins

A Conductor on the Rise Reveals Her Gifts,” Voice of OC

Third place: Timothy Mangan

Pianists Team for an Evening of Music for Two Pianos at Soka,” Voice of OC

Honorable Mention: Richard Chang

Review: OC Museum of Art’s Opening Exhibitions Delight, Confound, Engage,” Voice of OC


Best Music/Entertainment Story

First place: Andrew Turner

Carnival carnage: Demolition derbies are a shattering spectacle at the O.C. Fair,” Daily Pilot

Second place: Sarah Mosqueda

Wine labels to record labels,” Daily Pilot

Third place: Richard Chang

Danny Elfman Percussion Concerto Makes Its North American Premiere in Orange County,” Voice of OC

Honorable Mention: Simone Goldstone

The Relaunched CREEM is the Cream of the Crop for Rock Journalism,” Newport Beach Independent


Best Music/Entertainment Review

First place: Simone Goldstone

Paul McCartney Finally ‘Got Back’ on Tour,” Newport Beach Independent

Second place: Ashley Littlefield

Parallel Voices Has Us ‘Running’ on New EP,” EDM Identity

Third place: Ashley Littlefield

Jamie Jones and Darius Syrossian Dispatch Poolside Vibes on New EP,” EDM Identity


Best Health/Wellness Story

First place: Roxana Kopetman

Pregnant with COVID, she survived a nightmare,” OC Register

Second place: Anne Marie Panoringan

Panoringan: Food As Medicine – Cooking With MaxLove Project’s Fierce Foods Academy,” Voice of OC

Third place: Cathi Douglas

Hospital chaplains steward spiritual healing for end-of-life patients and their families,” San Diego Union-Tribune

Honorable Mention: Noah Biesiada

OC Spends a Third of Mental Health Outreach Money on Sports Teams: Is It Working?” Voice of OC


Best Environmental News Story

First place: Erika Ritchie

Young mountain lion roams 100 miles between beach and Santa Ana mountains,” OC Register

Second place: Richard Simon

The Trashy Side of Newport Beach,” Newport Beach Independent

Third place: Angelina Hicks

Are Community Gardens Becoming Orange County’s Next Town Squares,” Voice of OC

Honorable Mention: Angelina Hicks

Grand Jury: OC Residents Lose Millions Each Year in Unclaimed Recycling Funds,” Voice of OC


Best Education Story

First place: Roxana Kopetman

Lockdown alarm failed 3 preschool classes for deaf students in Santa Ana during intruder evacuation, teachers say,” OC Register

Second place: Shawn Price 

Camp, Sweet Camp,” Parenting OC

Third place: Roxana Kopetman

New Irvine charter school under scrutiny for alleged mismanagement,” OC Register


Best Food/Restaurant Story

First place: Gabriel San Román

In Anaheim, taco vendors and officials play a game of cat-and-mouse,” LA Times

Second place: Simone Goldstone

Brother’s Bond Bourbon is Founded by ‘Vampire Diaries’ Actors and Helps the Environment,” Newport Beach Independent

Third place: Sarah Mosqueda

Orange County’s diverse vegan Mexican food movement gains momentum,” Daily Pilot


Best Food/Restaurant Review

First place: Brad A. Johnson

South Coast Plaza’s Populaire rewrites the French bistro playbook,” OC Register

Second place: Brad A. Johnson

Finally, a proper cheese enchilada,” OC Register

Third place: Edwin Goei

At the Disneyland Resort, it’s a small world of food after all,” Daily Pilot


Best Travel Story

First place: Brooke Staggs

How a trip to Tanzania restored one writer’s faith in humanity,” OC Register

Second place: Anh Do

Taiwanese, Koreans and Hong Kongers can finally travel home. But others are out of luck,” LA Times

Third place: Richard Simon

Crossing the Northwest Passage: A Voyage of Ice, Wind and Polar Bears,” Newport Beach Independent


Best Profile

First place: Joe Mullich

Serving the Underserved,” Super Lawyers

Second place: Joe Mullich

The Difference Maker,” Super Lawyers

Third place: Sara Cardine

Newport Beach retiree Stan Ross, aka the Metal Detector Man, finds O.C.’s lost riches,” Daily Pilot


Best Religion Story

First place: Hosam Elattar

OC Muslims Hope For a More ‘Normal’ Ramadan as They Gear Up for the Third Celebration Since COVID,” Voice of OC

Second place: Lilly Nguyen

Faith leaders gather in Newport Beach to pray for Ukraine, world on National Day of Prayer,” Daily Pilot

Third place: Cathi Douglas

Why a first-responder chaplain’s work is so important,” San Diego Union-Tribune

Honorable Mention: Yusra Farzan

Muslims are fast becoming a powerful voting bloc in Orange County,” OC Register


David McQuay Award for Best Columnist 

First place: Norberto Santana Jr.

Voice of OC

Second place: Patrice Apodaca

Daily Pilot

Third place: Jim Alexander

OC Register


Best Video

First place: Joone Kim-Lopez

From Hate to Healing,” OC World

Second place: Scott Hays

Hope Dies Last,” OC World

Third place: Manuel Gómez 

To Live for the Harvest,” OC World

Honorable Mention: Shawn Price, Jessica Peralta and Aylin Ruiz

A Conversation with Ann & Kong,” Halloween Every Night


Best Use of Multimedia

First place: Jessica Peralta, Shawn Price, Aylin Ruiz and Lindsay Schiro

“‘Spook Show 17’ Offers a Look Behind The 17th Door,” Halloween Every Night

Second place: Samantha Dunn

These 10 Noteworthy books by Southern California authors made an impact in 2021,” OC Register

Third place: Jessica Peralta, Shawn Price and Hannah Nguyen

Twisted Christmas Brings Immersive Scares to The Frida Cinema,” Halloween Every Night


Best Use of Data

First place: Brooke Staggs and Nikie Johnson

Analysis: What are Orange County House members tweeting about?” OC Register

Second place: Brooke Staggs

“Orange County more likely than most to elect women to office, but gaps persist,” OC Register


Best Use of Social Media

First place: Meghann Cuniff 

Law & Crime News, covering Cardi Bi’s federal civil trial in Orange County

Second place: Meghann Cuniff Recorder, covering John Eastman’s speech at the California Republican Assembly meeting

Third place: Brad A. Johnson

Instagram (@bradajohnson)


Best Graphic

First place: Jennifer Coats and Shawn Price

Salem Witch Trials, Halloween Every Night


Best Illustration

First place: Dominic Ho

Stephen King, Halloween Every Night

Second place: Jeffrey Goertzen

Angels, OC Register

Third place: Dominic Ho

“Psycho,” Halloween Every Night

Honorable Mention: Dexter Urias

Bluebeard, Halloween Every Night


Best News Photo

First place: Mitch Ridder

Emerald Bay fire, Laguna Beach Independent

Second place: Paul Bersebach

coastal day, OC Register

Third place: Leonard Ortiz

Smiling couple, OC Register


Best Sports Photo

First place: Keith Birmingham 

broken bat, OC Register

Second place: Mark Rightmire 

surfing victory, OC Register

Third place: Paul Rodriguez

dejection, OC Register

Honorable Mention: Mark Rightmire

girls soccer, OC Register


Best Feature Photo

First place: Paul Bersebach

Sunrise, OC Register

Second place: Leonard Ortiz

Surfer, OC Register

Third place: Mark Rightmire

Gliders, OC Register

Honorable Mention: Brad A. Johnson

Heritage BBQ, OC Register


Best Portrait

First place: Dustin Snipes

Natalie Weatherford, Super Lawyers

Second place: Dustin Snipes

Irene Y. Lee, Super Lawyers 

Third place: Leonard Ortiz

Planned Parenthood technician, OC Register 


The Real O.C. Award

First place: Mike Moodian

Coastal Crisis: California’s Vanishing Beaches,” OC World

Second place: Hosam Elattar

““Enough is Enough”: Anaheim’s Edison Community Demands Safer Streets,” Voice of OC

Third place: Tony Saavedra and Laylan Connelly

Southern California coastal towns are losing valuable sand, putting some beaches at risk,” OC Register

Honorable Mention: Brooke Staggs

Afghan refugees find generosity, chaos as they settle in Orange County,” OC Register


Journalist of the Year 

Scott M. Reid




Best News Feature Story

First place: Patrice Marsters

“Business Management Pathway Develops Students’ Entrepreneurial Savvy,” Newport-Mesa Unified School District

Second place: Greg Mellen

CUSD representatives learn about how to combat dangers to students during School Safety Summit,” CUSD Insider

Third place: Jessica Peralta

“In Memoriam: The life of Santa Ana Police K9 Puskas,” Behind the Badge


Best Feature Story

First place: Greg Mellen

Tesoro student turns her pain into anti-racism movement,” CUSD Insider

Second place: Greg Mellen

Nothing can stop San Juan Hills High basketball coach Jason Efstathiou,” CUSD Insider

Third place: Greg Hardesty

One Hundred Years of Gratitude: The Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange celebrate the centennial anniversary of the order’s relocation to Batavia Street from Northern California,” Orange County Catholic

Honorable Mention: Jessica Peralta

Post-retirement, Westminster Police Department’s K9 Pako candle shines bright,” Behind the Badge


Best Arts/Culture Story or Review

First place: Greg Hardesty

Hazel Wright Organ: It took a small army of people and nearly a decade to restore world-famous Hazel Wright Organ to her glory,” Orange County Catholic

Second place: Greg Mellen

Santa Ana homicide detective runs youth mariachi nonprofit, providing life-enriching outlet for kids,” Behind the Badge

Third place: Richard Chang

Forging a Common Bond,” UCI Arts

Honorable Mention: Patrice Marsters

“Recess Enhanced with Creative Art Programs,” Newport-Mesa Unified School District 


Best Photo

First place: Jeff Antenore

High school graduation surprise, CUSD Insider


Best Video

First place: Tauli Anderson

Westminster Police Department shuts down alleged slaphouse,” Behind the Badge

Posted in Awards, News.