News & Events

OC Press Club Opens Award Submissions for 2020’s Record Year

The OC Press Club is opening this year’s award submissions and looks forward to recognizing the county’s best journalism produced in extremely uncertain times.

The year of 2020 was filled with huge obstacles for local media: a pandemic, economic strife, wildfires and a national election. Orange County journalists faced all these reporting challenges while staffing continues to decline in the media landscape and while trying to maintain safe distancing protocols.

This year’s awards will be a bright spot in the media world as we gather together (later in 2021 in person or virtually) to celebrate how strong journalism informs, empowers and enlightens the community.

This year’s awards include new categories devoted to recognizing important work on topics such as COVID-19, natural disasters, demonstrations and the election.

> View the full list of award categories and how to enter submissions HERE.

> Work must be received by end of day Sunday, April 18.

Please reach out to [email protected] with any questions.

Live, Virtual Discussion: “The State of Transparency in Orange County: The Public, The Press and Local Government”

The Orange County Press Club is proud to present a live virtual discussion for the 2021 Sunshine Week.

This discussion will center around the current state of seeking public records and accessing local government open meetings amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The panel will be held from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday, March 18 and will be streamed publicly on the Press Club Facebook page.

The virtual discussion is timed with Sunshine Week, the 16th annual nonpartisan and nationwide effort to bring to light the state of reporters and the public in accessing public documents and meetings. Accessing such information is vital to journalists and the public being informed and engaged with quality of life debates and decisions.

The debate will be moderated by OC Press Club Board Member Daniel Langhorne. He is managing editor for the Laguna Beach Independent and engagement editor for The War Horse, a nonprofit newsroom.

Panel guests include:

Norberto Santana, Jr. who is publisher and editor-in-chief of nonprofit newsroom Voice of OC and president of CalAware.

Shawn Raymundo who is city editor for the San Clemente Times.

Ian Wheeler who is a reporter with the Orange County Register.

The Press Club encourages the public, professional journalists and students to submit questions ahead of time by emailing [email protected]. Questions may also be asked live on Facebook during the discussion.

An Open Letter to Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do

We are writing to express our deep disappointment with Supervisor Andrew Do’s recent comments on the number of public records requests submitted to the county in recent months. The documents requested by news organizations, including Voice of OC, are owned by the public. County officials are obliged by hard-won state laws to produce these records for public inspection.

Journalists use public records to uncover facts that taxpayers deserve to know even when it’s uncomfortable for public officials to address. Supervisor Do’s belittling of these requests as an annoyance erodes public trust in journalists and the work we do at a time when our profession is under attack.

Supervisor Do’s comments were a disservice, not only to the journalists who cover the county, but also to the public he was elected to serve. 

We were also disturbed by the supervisor referring to the award-winning, nonprofit Voice of OC as “noise.” In the midst of a pandemic, the need for accurate and timely information has never been more critical. The men and women of Voice of OC deserve to be treated with professionalism by Orange County’s top elected officials. We expect more from our elected representatives and urge Supervisor Do to apologize.



The Orange County Press Club Board of Directors

Lillian Boyd

Ben Brazil

Hannah Fry

Alma Fausto

Kathy Hobstetter

Daniel Langhorne

Patrice Marsters

David N. Young

Bradley Zint

Note: Board Member Sonya Quick abstained from the discussion and vote on this letter as she is digital editor at Voice of OC.


[View this letter as a PDF.]

OC Press Club Opens Election for 2020-21 Board of Directors

The Orange County Press Club has opened the election for the 2020-21 Board of Directors. Read on to learn more about this year’s candidates. Click the link to vote for your preferred candidates via SurveyMonkey.


Lillian Boyd

Lillian Boyd is the senior editor for Picket Fence Media and city editor for Dana Point Times. She grew up in Aliso Viejo, graduating from Aliso Niguel High School before earning a degree in journalism from Humboldt State University, where she reported and edited for her campus publication The Lumberjack. Early on in her career, she secured an internship at the Pentagon covering U.S. Army news. She also interned for the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) chapter in Los Angeles, interviewing incarcerated individuals in the LA County jails and drafting legal declarations. In Roanoke, Virginia, Lillian reported and anchored for WFIR, a local news radio station. She made her way back to Orange County in the fall of 2018 and has since been with Picket Fence Media.

Ben Brazil

As an experienced journalist for Los Angeles Times OC, I’ve covered everything Orange County—social issues, culture, technology, business, public safety and courts. I’ve covered council meetings that go long after midnight. I’ve covered the county’s struggle against homelessness and corruption in the district attorney’s office. I know Orange County. I grew up here and care deeply about the health of O.C. journalism.

As a board member for the Orange County Press Club, I would seek to continue advocating for the local journalism industry. At a time when journalists face ridicule and even violence for just doing their jobs, it’s vitally important that the OC Press Club continues to advocate for local journalists and provide a network for media professionals. The club’s voice has never been more important.

Alma Fausto

I have served as a board member for five years and am asking for a vote to continue to serve. During my time I have helped organize various events namely the annual Journalism Awards Gala and have helped award scholarships to high school and college students. I’ve been a reporter for the Orange County Register for the last seven years. Most of that time I’ve covered crime and public safety.

I’d like to continue being a part of the board because I believe young journalists and students are still very passionate about our mission despite the obstacles produced by the ever-changing industry. I would like to keep trying to motivate young journalists to join the club so they can connect and learn from industry professionals who have been through many more ups and downs. As a member of the Orange County Press Club I have been connected to reporters, editors, communications professionals, professors and others who I may not have otherwise known; I’d like to help more people do the same.


Hannah Fry

I have served as an Orange County Press Club board member for four years, most recently as president, and would love to continue to serve. During my years on the board I have helped our team organize events like the annual Journalism Awards Gala, facilitated the redesign of our website and have selected deserving high school and college students for scholarships. I’d like to continue to serve as a board member because I believe the future of journalism and those who are passionate about it remains strong despite the industry’s challenges.

I grew up in Orange County and started my journalism career at the Orange County Register as an intern before I was hired at the Daily Pilot in 2013. In 2018, I was promoted to the Los Angeles Times to cover breaking news across California. In January, I will begin covering Orange County for the Times. I approach my reporting with a focus on accountability and a passion for shedding light on issues that make Orange County such a unique place in California.


Kathy Hobstetter

I am an international journalist and have been a Board member for five years on the OC Press Club. I have really have enjoyed being a part of it.
I have a publication, The iJump Sports Business Journal, that has always been based here in the OC and covers the international show jumping horse business, which has a financial impact of millions on the economy and the people and businesses who “play” in that sport. I have lived in Orange County since 1965.

I truly love promoting or writing about just about anything and did extensive freelance writing before I opened my own magazine. I believe I bring to the OC Press Club an energy and enthusiasm for journalism that will be fun and exciting.

PS…Violette Murphy was my mother and I lived through her being one of the first journalists in the world who went to jail in 1961 for refusing to reveal a news source, groundbreaking at the time.


Patty Marsters

Patty Marsters has served on the board of the Orange County Press Club since 1998, acting in many roles, including president and secretary. For the past few years, she has focused her organizational skills on putting together the annual Excellence In Journalism contest. She previously was associate editor of OC Weekly, a publication she joined as an intern in 1995. Ms. Marsters also mentors aspiring writers and editors at Newport Harbor High School and co-leads a multilevel Girl Scout troop. In her spare time, Ms. Marsters reads for fun, creates baked goods, and rants at inanimate objects (such as her computer) about her grammatical and writing pet peeves. She prefers writing in the first person, but uses third person for these sorts of biographies. Ms. Marsters lives in Orange with her two daughters, two cats, and a very old goldfish named George.


Daniel Langhorne

I moved to Orange County from my hometown of Santa Barbara in 2008 to attend Chapman University. I wrote for the college newspaper, The Panther, for nearly four years before obtaining my B.A. in Political Science and English with an emphasis in Journalism. While attending Chapman, I started interning for the Orange County Register as a community blogger in Orange. In October 2012, I was hired as a staff writer covering Orange and Villa Park. I went on to cover the Nixon Presidential Library & Museum as well as housing, development, education, water and local politics in other Orange County cities.

Since leaving the Register in 2015, I have written for Law360, the Foothills Sentry, the Newport Beach Independent, the Laguna Beach Independent, Los Angeles Times Community News, and the California Business Journal. I’m currently managing editor for the Laguna Beach Independent and engagement editor for the nonprofit newsroom, The War Horse.

As an Orange County Press Club scholarship winner, I believe the press club plays an important role in fostering the next generation of journalists. The world needs journalists more than ever and I’d like the opportunity to help keep the press club strong.


Sonya Quick

I believe in the power of journalism. I see power in the act of impartial observers who seek the truth and report it. I see the critical value of an independent press that acts as the fourth estate. I see the difference in communities where reporting illuminates underserved populations. I see hope in opportunities for divided people to come together and engage in civil discourse.

I would like the opportunity to serve on the Orange County Press Club board in a time when journalism needs passionate defenders more than ever. I have seen firsthand the value journalism organizations, such as the Society of Professional Journalists and Online News Association, to serve and protect journalists. I have been an OC Press Club member for much of my time as a professional journalist and I recently redesigned the club’s website.

I have more than a decade of experience in leading efforts to create more connected journalism across devices, social platforms and communities. I am digital editor at Voice of OC where I manage online fundraising, marketing, engagement, digital storytelling and user experience. I am also an adjunct professor of digital journalism at Chapman University. Previously I was an editor, digital journalist and reporter at the Orange County Register for nearly a decade and I have freelanced for multiple platforms including OC Family magazine. My personal career goal is to continue finding ways to build sustainable news organizations that enable communities to be informed and engaged around local issues.


David Young

David N. Young is a working journalist and internationally recognized public affairs strategist who has worked in a variety of public capacities throughout his career. Currently, he is an editor with Community Media Corporation and has formerly served as editor of the Catalina Islander,
the Seal Beach Sun and other publications. Based for many years in Washington, D.C., he now lives and works in Southern California.

As a strategist, David has counseled local, state, and federal agencies, Fortune 500 companies, public officials and non-profit organizations. He was awarded the journalism award in high school, the telecasting innovation award in college and was first named to Who’s Who in America in 1994. He attended the LSU School of Journalism and studied broadcasting at the University of Southwestern Louisiana. His work has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Information Agency and others.

Bradley Zint

My name is Bradley Zint and I am a freelance journalist based in Orange County. Most of my full-time newspaper career was spent writing and editing at the Daily Pilot, part of the Los Angeles Times Community News division, here in O.C. But I also worked at newspapers based in Long Beach, Massachusetts and Alaska, covering every topic possible (even fishing) that wasn’t sports. Now I keep a busy freelance schedule while pursuing other opportunities. If elected to the Orange County Press Club board, I would work to make the annual awards dinner affordable and organize events that working journalists would find interesting. Thank you for your consideration.


Vote for your preferred candidates via SurveyMonkey

OC Press Club Names 2020 Excellence in Journalism Award Winners



Best News Story

First Place: Nick Gerda, “OC Approves New Policy to Immediately Destroy Public Records” (Voice of OC,

Comments: This story is a win for journalism. Unbelievable that those in power think this is acceptable.


Second Place: Roxana Kopetman, “Migrant crisis spreads from border into Inland Empire” (OC Register,

Comments: Well written beginning. Easy to visualize what is happening. Effects many.


Third Place: Erika Ritchie, “Family of military killed in training band together to push lawmakers into action” (OC Register,

Comments: Well-written – Life and Death Issue – Great Visuals.


Best News Feature Story 

First Place: Cindy Carcamo, “Lugging water into the desert for thirsty migrants unites this couple. Trump divides them” (LA Times,

Comments: Fascinating eyewitness treatment of a humanitarian effort involving people of disparate political stripes, making it a multifaceted, layered and engaging feature. 


Second Place: Jonah Valdez, “A year later, borderline mass shooting victims families and survivors process grief” (OC Register,

Comments: A difficult subject handled in a respectful, well-reported and comprehensive way. The poignant ending really drives things home. 


Third Place: Teri Sforza, “Are sick ‘puppy mill’ dogs being disguised as rescues to sidestep new California law?” (OC Register,

Comments: Personalized stories combine with investigative legwork to seamlessly piece together a complex puzzle. Not only a good read, but also a fine example of community service journalism.


Best Breaking News Story 

First Place: Hannah Fry, Cindy Carcamo, Maria L. LaGanga, Richard Winton and Julia Sclafani, “Two Hours of Terror in Orange County With No Easy Answers” (LA Times,

Comments: This account of a violent rampage by a man who killed four people during a two-hour crime spree was exquisitely written and read more like a meticulous narrative than a breaking news compilation of facts on the fly. Background and perspective were woven into the story through comments from victims and witnesses, and put into context by citing recent similar mass shootings and changes in state early release laws — strong reporting that painted a vivid picture of what happened and who was affected. 


Best Investigative Story 

First Place: Cindy Carcamo, “At ‘Freedom House,’ a pattern of neglect“ (LA Times,


Second Place: Nick Gerda, “OC Moves Millions From Health Agency to Help Cover Sheriff Overruns” (Voice of OC,


Third Place: Gabriel San Roman, “Ticket Masters: Anaheim Showers Supporters With Tickets to the Hottest Attractions in Town” (OC Weekly,


Best Series 

First Place: Jeff Collins, Nikie Johson, Alicia Robinson and Jeff Goertzen, Housing in CA for the OC Register 

Comments: This is an excellent display of editorial, design and graphic elements to tell the story of housing throughout the cities and counties that surround one of the largest states in the country. The creative team did a great job at incorporating warranted design elements such as use of charts, graphs, maps and the overall grading system which clearly show the reader how each area ranks across multiple grading criteria. This team knows how to tell a story and did an exceptional job helping the reader determine if their home jurisdiction “made the grade.” Well done! 


Best Beat Reporting 

First Place (TIE): Alicia Robinson, coverage of Angels Stadium (OC Register)

First Place (TIE): Scott Schwebke, coverage of the VA (OC Register)

Second place: Meghan Cuniff, Michael Avenatti’s judicial odyssey (Daily Journal)

Third place: Martin Wisckol, environmental news (OC Register)


Best Public Affairs Story 

First Place: Gabriel San Roman, “Trump’s Travel Ban Keeps an Iranian Woman Away From Her OC Husband” (OC Weekly,

Comments: The reporter provided a moving and emotional story that brings to life the real impact of public policy decisions on the people most affected. As a reader, you can’t help but walk away understanding the plight of the young couple impacted, and wondering how many more people are there whose lives have been shaken up by the travel ban. Exceptional public affairs reporting!


Second Place: Jeong Park, “Rancho Santa Margarita could lose nearly half its affordable housing supply” (OC Register,

Comments: Great analysis on the looming dearth of available affordable housing in the community. The writer shines a bright spotlight on the problem–and leaves those involved in creating it with nowhere to hide. Well done!


Best Feature Story 

First Place: Keith Sharon, “Former LAPD cop rushes home to find man from iconic 1992 riot picture on his porch after LA marathon mix-up” (OC Register,


Second Place: Susan Christian Goulding, “DNA kit reveals Tustin man’s surprise siblings and family secrets” (OC Register,


Third Place: Laura Bleiberg, “Brea’s Public Art Caretakers” (Voice of OC,


Best Round-Up or Best Of 

First Place: Christopher Trela, “Fun With Food at the OC Fair” (Newport Beach Independent,


Second Place: Jeong Park, “Your Guide to Garden Grove’s newly named Orange County Koreatown” (OC Register,


Third Place: Edwin Goei, “Discover the Next Level of Pho, Bang Mi and Bun at These Little Saigon Spots” (OC Weekly,


Best Business Story 

First Place: Jeff Collins, “Fallout from state’s rent control debate: More rent hikes” (OC Register,


Second Place: Jeff Collins, “Youths needed to fill construction jobs as openings rise” (OC Register,


Third Place: Jeff Collins, “A dynasty built on home sales: Curtain falls on Tarbell after 93 years” (OC Register,


Best Sports Story 

First Place: Joey Kaufman, “Graham Harrell Tasked With Reviving USC Offense With Some Air Raid Flair” (OC Register,

Comments: Well-written, fascinating tale


Second Place: Christopher Trela, “Newport Sailors Prepare for 50th Transpac Race” (Newport Beach Independent,

Comments: Good use of history to place in context this significant and long-lived sporting event.


Third Place: Susan Christian Goulding, “Seal Beach residents ask who’s responsible for car damage caused by flying golf balls” (OC Register,

Comments: An unexpected story, done well.


Best Arts/Culture Story 

First Place: Kedric Francis. “On Prints and Property” (Blue Door Magazine,

Comments: clever, beautiul, unique, well rounded


Second Place: Anthony Pignataro, “Dice Are How You Flex” (OC Weekly,

Comments: unique story, lots of interesting layers, loved the CPR, “Medicine” skill as well as the dice tid bit and tie in to the title


Third Place: Kedric Francis, “10 Cool Things about New Christ Cathedral” (Blue Door Magazine,


Best Arts/Culture Review 

First Place: Peter Larsen, “Kanye West premieres debut opera Nebuchadnezzar at Hollywood Bowl” (OC Register,

Comments: A fun, evocative read. Informal style pairs well with subject matter. The reader can’t help but come away with an opinion!


Second Place: Paul Hodgins, “‘90s Classic ‘Skylight’ Finds New Relevance at Chance Theater” (Voice of OC,

Comments: Exellent review. Author obviously knows his stuff. Good backgrounding on author and play.  Made me want to see it!


Third Place: Liz Goldner, “Works on Paper: the Collection of Cheech Marin at the Muzeo” (Irvine Weekly,

Comments: I want to see this exhibit! More background and context and fewer two-sentence desciptions would have helped the flow. But well and knowledgably written.


Best Music/Entertainment Story 

First Place: Kelli Skye Fadroski, “Social Distortion’s Mike Ness Talks About Sobriety, New Music and Bruce Springsteen Before the Band Celebrates its 40th Anniversary in Irvine” (OC Register,

Comments: What a poignant, wonderful story of beating the odds, following your passion, and making a difference in the world through music! Excellent storytelling and weaving in all the intricacies of drug addiction and achieving sobriety. 


Second Place: Christopher Trela, “A Righteous Life” (Newport Beach Magazine,

Comments: I really enjoyed this bird’s eye view of Bill Medley’s life. He is a legend and this was an interesting, colorful read!


Third Place: Kelli Skye Fadroski, “Producer Linda Perry Says Her Grammy Nomination is Already a Win” (OC Register,

Comments: This is an edgy, captivating story. Linda shows women that anything is possible! Excellent writing. 


Best Music/Entertainment Review 

First Place: Peter Larsen, “Paul McCartney Reunites With Ringo Starr at Dodger Stadium During Career Spanning Show” (OCounty Register,

Comments: I actually felt as if I were there. Interesting topic, wonderful descriptions and a wonderful tribute to two of the best musicians of all time! I was riveted. 


Second Place: Eric Marchese, “Solid Performances and Production Values Elevate Stage Version of Grumpy Old Men: The Musical” (Voice of OC,

Comments: This piece is so entertaining! I loved the vivid descriptions and colorful characters described by the journalist. Excellent job!


Third Place: Timothy Mangan, “Third Coast Percussion Lays Down a Virtuosic Set at Samueli” (Voice of OC,

Comments: This was a clever, tightly-written piece about an unusual genre of music. 


Best Environmental News Story 

First Place: Martin Wisckol, “Your recyclables are going to the dump and here’s why” (OC Register,

Comments: This is a well-handled look at a disruption in recycling because of a breakdown in foreign markets. Details about consumer costs and possible legislative solutions help inform the public. Excellent work amid other noteworthy environmental reports in this category.


Second Place: Erika Ritchie, ““California Dungeness crab industry to stop fishing three months early in legal settlement to help end whale, turtle entanglements”” (OC Register,

Comments: Producers and consumers are impacted by a three-month shutdown of the crab industry as covered in this report that outlines why — protecting whales and turtles — and how the solution was achieved. Well done.


Third Place: Anthony Pignataro, “How Sea Level Rise Will Change Orange County” (OC Weeky,

Comments: Sea-level rise seems inevitable and this report delves into why and the decisions under consideration now for a problem that may not fully hit Orange County residents for decades. Solid work about a long-term menace, with personal recollections helping provide perspective.


Best Education Story 

First Place: Susan Gill Vardon, “CSUF Clinic Helps Transgender Clients Find Their Voice, Confidence” (OC Register,

Comments: Fascinating story. Readers will repeatedly say to themselves, “I didn’t know that!”


Second Place: Hannah Fry, “Adulting Is Hard” (LA Times,

Comments: An eye-opener that shows what kids aren’t learning in school. Well reported.


Third Place: Gabriel San Roman, “The Fight Over a School Named for a Brea Pioneer Who Happened to be a Klansman” (OC Weekly,

Comments: Solid reporting, great sourcing. An in-depth look at a topic many would want to avoid.


Best Food/Restaurant Story 

First Place: Bradley Zint, “After 40 years of running Antonello Ristorante, Antonio Cagnolo still delivers food ‘from sea to table’” (LA Times,

Comments: The smooth narrative is seamless, quick-witted and rounded out with good background information. It made me want to join Antonio Cagnolo on his next fishing trip.


Second Place: Anne Valdespino, “How Friendships Inspired Legendary Restaurateurs Ron Salisbury and Piero Selvaggio to Open Louie’s By the Bay in Newport Beach” (OC Register,

Comments: The tale of two business partners’ friendship has descriptive details and meaningful quotes, making it an interesting feature.


Third Place: Anne Valdespino, “Why Hot Sauce Addicts Are Willing to Pay Through the Nose for Sinus-Clearing Premium Sauces” (OC Register,

Comments: The lead gets you right into the story about why hot sauces are trending. The sidebar on the three luxury hot sauces is a useful extra layer to the story.

Best Food/Restaurant Review 

First Place: Brad A. Johnson, “Knife Pleat teeters on the verge of greatness but isn’t quite there” (OC Register,

Comments: From start to finish, this review is delightful. The flavors of the dishes come through with the writer’s detailed descriptions — I could almost taste the caviar. I also liked how the background information was woven in.


Second Place: Edwin Goei, “The Omelet at the New Delice Breton in San Juan Capistrano Is Oeuf-ing Good” (OC Weekly,

Comments: The writer’s ode to a fluffy omelet is wonderfully descriptive and I could have kept reading more about it. It is a good example of how a review can be written tightly and yet be effective.


Third Place: Brad A. Johnson, “Have you made your reservation? CdM is a scene” (OC Register,

Comments: You get a clear taste of the dishes through the writer’s effortless descriptions. It’s good read especially if you didn’t make a reservation and have a long wait for a table to open up.


Best Travel Story 

First Place: Cindy Carcamo, “On a trip to Guatemala with my toddler, her grandparents’ fears give way to fun” (LA Times,

Comments: Cindy Carcamo gifts readers with a stereotype-busting trip to Guatemala. As seen not just through her eyes but through the eyes of her 3-year-old daughter, this is a well-written story recounting experiences both past and present. Her writing is descriptive but not verbose, and the personal revelations elevate what otherwise might be a run-of-the-mill travel story into something truly eye-opening. Well done!


Second Place: Gabriel San Roman, “The Earth is Sacred. Chimayo Proves It” (OC Weekly,

Comments: Gabriel San Roman revisits a childhood destination with a trip to a centuries-old Roman Catholic Church in northern New Mexico. This is a fascinating look at an area said to have healing dirt. Congratulations on a story that is part compelling history but wholly intriguing.


Third Place: Jessica Kwong, “Experiencing Italy’s Coast Requires Some Footwork” (OC Register,

Comments: This is a nicely detailed pre-pandemic look at one of the most beautiful coastlines in Europe, much of it traversed on foot. Kudos to writer Jessica Kwong for artfully capturing the sights in jealousy-inducing fashion.


Best Profile 

First Place: Anthony Pignataro, “A Night In The Life Of An Overnight TV-News Stringer” (OC Weekly,

Comments: Pignataro’s well-written portrait of a TV-news stringer was truly gripping. He ably revealed many facets of his subject and a job many people may not know about. His vivid descriptions brought the reader into the scene, a setting that almost felt like film noir.


Second Place: Jim Washburn, “Dick Dale’s California” (Blue Door Magazine,

Comments: Washburn’s fun-to-read piece went far beyond Dick Dale the icon. It uncovered other aspects of the musician/artist and with wonderful turns of phrase also captured the time and place Dale defined in his music.


Third Place: Theresa Walker, “A decade after Great Recession chewed him up, homeless DJ feels almost back” (OC Register,

Comments: Walker put a lot of time and commitment into this story of Jim Henry, and it shows. She let the facts speak for themselves, without editorializing. And in doing so, she created a sympathetic portrait of an inspiring man who became homeless yet never seemed to lose hope. 


Best Religion Story 

First Place: Deepa Bharath, “Southern California United Methodist Congregations on the Brink of Schism Over National Church’s Stance on Homosexuality” (OC Register,

Comments: A well-written and balanced account of a church divided over fundamental teachings. It made me want to follow up to see if the two sides were able to reach some common ground or if the schism was inevitable.


Second Place: Caitlin Yoshiko Kandil, “Inspired in part by the teachings of Malcolm X, Orange County Muslims travel to distant prisons to minister to inmates” (LA Times,

Comments: Kandil brings to readers’ attention a group that doesn’t just help inmates find their faith but also the means to live their faith once they are outside of prison walls.


Third Place: Deepa Bharath, “After Swastika Photo With Students Went Viral, the Local Jewish Community Embraced and Educated Them” (OC Register,

Comments: We’ve become too used to hearing of instances of anti-Semetic or racial incidents, intentional and otherwise. The “twist” here was the offended community chose to look at what happened and make it an opportunity to forgive and teach and be inclusive.


David McQuay Award for Best Columnist 

First Place: Patrice Apodaca, Daily Pilot

Comments: This columnist takes the “news of the day” and from it extrapolates deeper meanings and broader implications, helping the reader see beyond the surface and understand the deeper issues at play. She makes strong and persuasive arguments based on facts, she articulates her positions clearly, and her distinctive and powerful voice and writing style make her columns a pleasure to read. If I lived in the OC, I would make it a point to read her columns regularly to stay informed about important issues and expose myself to points of view that I may not have thought of or otherwise considered.


Second Place: Jonathan Lansner, OC Register

Comments: Entertaining and original writing style that draws the reader in. Uses math and other data in an accessible and non-intimidating way to put things in perspective and deepen the reader’s understanding of the situation. He combines analytical thinking with great writing, which makes it easy for readers to see beyond the hype and the headlines and understand what’s really going on. He seems like a columnist you can trust to tell it to you straight.


Third Place: David Jerome, OC Register

Comments: It’s a sign of a good writer when even if you aren’t particularly interested in a topic, you find yourself engrossed in the stories, caring about the characters, and leaving feeling somehow enriched, and that’s the experience one has reading David’s columns. He’s an engaging writer who digs up interesting tales and tells them with flair that really puts the reader there.


Marjorie Freeman Award for Best Humorous Story 

First Place: Susan Christian Goulding, “The Loud Crowd” (OC Register,


Second Place: Mark D. Crantz, “The Winner Is . . .” (Laguna Beach Independent,




Best News Story

First Place: Elysse James, “Outreach, shelter beds help Anaheim police help homeless” (Behind the Badge,


Best Feature Story 

First Place: RJ Smith, “The Master” (Super Lawyers Magazine,


Second Place: Lou Ponsi, “As she becomes Pasadena PD’s first African American deputy chief, Cheryl Moody adds to a long list of achievements” (Behind the Badge,


Third Place: Lou Ponsi, “Guitarist, songwriter, athlete and DA investigator, Damon Tucker is a man of many talents” (Behind the Badge,


Best Music/Entertainment Story or Review 

First Place: Daniella Litvak, “Poor Yella Rednecks” (The Orange Curtain Revue,


Second Place: Shawn Price, “The 17th Door” (Halloween Every Night,


Third Place: Jackie Moe, “9 fun, inspiring stories from Broadway queen Betty Buckley” (Backstage SOCal,


Best Arts/Culture Story or Review  

First Place: Liz Goldner, “Yevgeniya Mikhailik: A Slow Conflict” (Art and Cake,


Second Place: Liz Goldner, “Orange County’s Aviation Heritage Lives On in Art at the Orange County Great Park” (KCET Artbound,


Best Food/Restaurant Story or Review  

First Place: Brad A. Johnson, “Where to Eat in Mexico City, part 2” (Brad A. Johnson, Food & Travel,


Second Place: Bradley Zint, “Westside Slice: Trenta Pizza and Cucina” (I Heart Costa Mesa,




Best Broadcast 

First Place: Shawn Price, “King Kong video” (Halloween Every Night,

Comments: Fun, interesting presentation.


Second Place: Shawn Price. “Alien 40th anniversary filmmakers” (Halloween Every Night,


Best Use of Multimedia 

First Place: Shawn Price, “Plan 9 review” (Halloween Every Night,

Comments: Good stuff, made me want to see the show.


Second Place: Shawn Price, “Sleepy Hollow” (Halloween Every Night,


Third Place: Joe Vargas, Henderson Police Shooting (Behind the Badge,


Best Podcast 

First Place: Keith Sharon, Mom Vs. Murderer (

Comments: Well done, compelling story.


Second Place: Joe Vargas, Behind the Badge (




Best Cover 

First Place: Dustn Snipes, Super Lawyers Magazine cover of Phillip K. Wang

Comments: The winner is a ‘master’ of design, making use of a great photograph, foreground and background to compel the reader to want to know this man’s story.


Second Place: Brett Hillyard and Jonny Fuego, April 2019 cover of Blue Door Magazine (


Third Place: Brett Hillyard and Jonny Fuego, August 2019 cover of Blue Door Magazine (


Best Page Design 

First Place: Jonny Fuego, “Guo Wow!” for Blue Door Magazine (

Comments: ‘Guo Wow!’ showcases the photos and stories in a way that gives the reader the experience of a fashion show. Variety of size and color and great use of white space help propel the piece along page to page. Simple but sleek.


Second Place: Jonny Fuego, “Rudi Rules” for Blue Door Magazine (


Third Place: Jonny Fuego, “On Prints and Property” for Blue Door Magazine (


Best Graphic 

First Place: Nick Gerda and Sonya Quick, “OC Sheriff vs. Health & Social Services” (Voice of OC,

Comments: The winner ultimately delivers a simple, straightforward explanation for how healthcare and social services were very gradually de-prioritized by public officials as police expenses shot up. Complements the story and helps the reader understand it better.


Second Place: Jeff Goertzen, “Deadly Stakes” (OC Register)


Third Place: Scarlett Kim, “Carnival of Souls” (Halloween Every Night)


Best Illustration 

First Place: Zarah Prater, “The Undying Monster” (Halloween Every Night)

Comments: The winner is somehow a clean and crisp but filthy thing to look at. Nice new take on an old classic.


Second Place: Zarah Prater, “The Invisible Man” (Halloween Every Night)


Third Place: Zarah Prater, “Alien: Resurrection” (Halloween Every Night)




Best News Photo 

First Place: Richard Koehler, SUV hits light pole, overturns (OC Register)


Second Place: Julie Leopo, Wagner (Voice of OC)


Third Place: Richard Koehler, driver missed parking spot (OC Register)


Best Feature Photo 

First Place: Steven Georges, swearing in little girl (Behind the Badge)


Second Place: Steven Georges, graduation ceremony (Behind the Badge)


Best Portrait 

First Place: Brett Hillyard, Elizabeth Turk (Blue Door Magazine,


Second Place: Dustin Snipes, “Phillip K. Wang, the Master” (Super Lawyers Magazine)


Third Place: Brett Hillyard, Kedric Francis (Blue Door Magazine,


Best Photo Essay 

First Place: Brett Hillyard, “Palms of the Californias” (Blue Door Magazine,

Comments: Striking pictures that last in the reader’s mind.  Nice job.


Best Slideshow 

First Place: Julie Leopo, Santa Ana and Michoacán (Voice of OC,

Comments:  A very interesting study of two places, how much they are different and how much they are alike.  Really gave the readers something to think about.


Second Place: Steven Georges, paper football competition (OC Register)


Third Place: Christopher Trela, Lobster Fest (Newport Beach Independent)




The Real O.C. Award  

First Place: Hayley Munguia, “A Long Beach Pilot Made History 55 Years Ago, But She and Her Beloved Plane Faded From Memory Until Now” (OC Register,

Comments: Beautifully researched and well-written piece of history tying past and present together. Supplemental photos were key to this writer’s successful retelling of this story.


Second Place: Anh Do, “In Little Saigon, this newspaper has been giving a community a voice for 40 years” (LA Times,

Comments: A beautiful, well-written tribute by the author on the personal and professional impact of the subject. Photos and placement enhanced the storytelling.


Third Place: Gabriel San Roman, “Gloria Lopez’s Legendary Activism Began with the Integration of an Anaheim Mexican School” (OC Weekly,

Comments: Beautifully written and researched profile. The accompanying photos really helped enhance the storytelling.


OC Press Club Accepting Entries for 2020 Awards Contest

The Orange County Press Club is now accepting awards contest entries for work published during the 2019 calendar year.

The annual awards contest is a great opportunity for professional journalists in Orange County to submit work for evaluation against other journalists in the region.

The awards gala where the award finalists are announced is also a unique moment each year for Orange County journalists to gather, network, relax and recognize the important role media plays in the community.

CLICK HERE for the awards contest categories and rules on submitting work for consideration.

Press Club Gathers for AB 5 Discussion

The Orange County Press Club hosted a panel discussion last night, Feb. 6, around AB 5.

The group of editors discussed so-far known and potential future impacts on media, newspapers and freelance journalists. Click here to see video recorded live at the event.

Thank you to the panelists: John Canalis, assistant managing editor at Los Angeles Times; Todd Harmonson, senior editor at Orange County Register & Southern California News Group; and Peter Brennan, executive editor at Orange County Business Journal. The Press Club appreciates their insight into how the new state regulation of independent contractors is impacting Orange County newspapers.


First Press Club Mixer of 2020

Kickoff 2019 with the Orange County Press Club at our first mixer of the New Year at the 1888 Center.


This is a great opportunity for college students to meet with working journalists and learn about our scholarship program. It’s also the perfect time for members to share thoughts about the club with current board members. We want to hear from you!

Come mingle with your colleagues over a tasty glass of cold brew coffee from Contra!

The Press Club would like to thank the 1888 Center for graciously hosting us. For those who aren’t familiar with this hidden gem, it’s a coffee shop, art gallery, independent bookstore, and creative gathering space. The nonprofit behind the storefront aims to inspire and train the next generation of writers by hosting writing workshops and author panels.

2019 OC Press Club Award Finalists

Award winners for the 2019 annual contest for work produced during 2018.


Best Breaking News Story
First Place: Orange County Register staff, Thousand Oaks shooting
Comments: It’s clear the Orange County Register’s comprehensive coverage of the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks was the result of a herculean effort by the OCR’s reporters, editors and other staffers. From police audio to survivor accounts to the heartbreaking stories of the victims, the newspaper brought understanding and compassion to readers alongside its thorough coverage of a rapidly evolving breaking news event. A real public service in the face of tragedy – well done.
Second Place: Spencer Custodio, Voice of OC, “Irvine, H.B. and Laguna Niguel to Sue County Over Homeless Shelters”
Third Place: Spencer Custodio, Nick Gerda, Voice of OC, DA Files Campaign Sign Theft Charges Against Former Fullerton Candidate”

Best Cannabis Coverage
First Place: Amy DePaul, Voice of OC
Comments: Excellent research, descriptive writing, interesting content!
Second Place: Brooke Edwards Staggs, Orange County Register
“Marijuana Stinks”
Third Place: Mark D. Crantz, Laguna Beach Independent
“Holy Smokes”

Best News Feature Story
First Place: Cindy Carcamo, LA Times, “In Mountain of Guatemala, searching for parents deported from U.S. without children”
Comments: Gripping and extremely well-written, this story provides a close-up look at the monumental task of tracking down parents from Central America who were deported without the young children from whom the U.S. government separated them at the border. A truly enterprising piece of reporting in which tremendous effort paid off with real insights.
Second Place: Keith Sharon, Orange County Register, “Death of a Unicorn”
Third Place: Susan Christian Goulding, Orange County Register, “This Man Proposed a Law Banning Assault Weapons in Huntington Beach, Then the City Sued Him”

Best Business Story
First Place: Jeff Collins, Orange County Register, “The new American dream: Leasing your house”
Comments: A fresh angle on the housing crisis and the rent control debate. Well researched, clear, with a breadth of perspectives.
Second Place: Jeff Collins, Orange County Register, “Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher says it’s OK not to sell homes to gays; loses support of Realtors”
Third Place: Nancy Luna, Nation’s Restaurant News, “Restaurants face shortage of teen labor”

Best Public Affairs Story
First Place: Erika Ritchie, Orange County Register, “This police officer was told to pay $40,000 to Department of Defense because of an 8-year payroll glitch”
Comments: A superb example of watchdog reporting. The story would have been outrageous based on the facts alone, but telling us how the debt was affecting the officers made it much more powerful.
Second Place: Nick Gerda, Voice of OC, “County Won’t Name Everyone Who Broke Campaign Money Laws”
Third Place: Hannah Fry, LA Times
“Some Californians are hiring private fire crews to save their homes. Regular firefighters aren’t happy about it”

Best Series
First Place: Martin Wiskol, Orange County Register, The Real Cougars of Orange County
Comments: Absolutely great journalism—tackles a complex issue with excellent supporting visuals, well-researched data, compelling copy and headline with a hook. Tells a complete story of a complicated and controversial topic, backed with facts and insight into what is being done to create solutions. A must-read.
Second Place: Teri Sforza, Tony Saavedra and Scott Schwebke, Orange County Register, Born on Drugs
Third Place: Hannah Fry, Daily Pilot, Losing Sunny

Best Sports Story

First Place: Mirin Fader, Bleacher Report, “Did One Hit Lead to a 13-Year-Old’s Suicide?”
Comments: This was far and away the best entry in the category. It’s a gripping, well-paced story.
Second Place: Greg Hardesty, Blue Door Magazine, “Chakra Canyon”
Third Place: David Jerome, Orange County Register, “This Fullerton Columnist Took in Five Local Baseball Games in One Day”

Best Feature Story
First Place: Gabriel San Román, OC Weekly, “Disneyland Resort Workers Are the True Magic-Makers, But a Survey Shows Many Toil in Poverty”
Comments: Eye-opening look at the people behind the Disney resort industry, and the struggles they face. Well-written, and showcases an array of workers and experiences. Great work.
Second Place: Keith Sharon, Orange County Register, “He Watched His Friends Die in Vietnam”
Third Place: Hillary Davis, Daily Pilot, “Once-spindly tree flourishes at gravesite under a widow’s care”

Best Round-Up or Best Of
First Place: Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register, “Brad A. Johnson’s 75 Best Places to Eat, 2018″
Comments: Useful, well researched and detailed information, written in crisp, clear copy. Generates excitement about the local food possibilities!
Second Place: Cynthia Rebolledo, OC Weekly, “Viva Los Tacos”
Third Place: Christopher Trela, Newport Beach Independent, “Summer Fun: Free Your Inner Farmer and Foodie at OC Fair”

Best Arts/Culture Story
First Place: Gabriel San Román, OC Weekly, “What Happened to Downtown Santa Ana’s Cinco de Mayo Festival?”
Comments: A well-handled report about the loss of a popular local event in a clash between culture and commerce. Writing with a light touch helps carry the message about the financial reasons for the loss and the cultural relevance and history of Cinco de Mayo.
TIE for Second Place: Liz Goldner, Los Angeles Times, “‘First Glimpse’ peers into UC Irvine’s treasure trove of California art, the ‘largest collection of art that no one has ever seen'”
TIE for Second Place: Richard Chang, Voice of OC, “Ann Phong Turns Discarded Objects Into Art”
Third Place: Taylor Hamby, OC Weekly, “Paul Frank Is Still Orange County’s Friend”

Best Music/Entertainment Story
First Place: Taylor Hamby, OC Weekly, “A Longtime Employee of the Legendary Golden Bear Recalls the Huntington Beach Club’s Heyday”
Comments: Great opening. Nothing like telling a story. You are drawn into the story and want to know more. Long headline though (smile).
Second Place: Richard Chang, Daily Pilot, “Lido Theater in Newport Bech celebrates 80 years”
Third Place: David Jerome, Orange County Register, “Mr. Bucketlist: Still Making Queen Memories”

Best Food/Restaurant Story

First Place: Nancy Luna, Orange County Register, “One year later: Bruno Serato reflects as he prepares to reopen fire-damaged Anaheim White House”
Comments: Nicely done combination news-feature on this longtime restaurateur.
Second Place: Taylor Hamby, OC Weekly, “Orange County’s Tiki Bars of the Past and Present Help You to Forget About Your Boring Life”
Third Place: Cynthia Rebolledo, Remezcla, “Thanks to This Restaurant, Flour Tortillas Are Cool Again in Southern California”

Best Environmental News Story
First Place: Martin Wisckol , Orange County Register, “The Real Cougars of Orange County Pt. 2: Mountain lions’ survival might depend on wildlife crossing near Temecula”
Comments: This is a well-researched and really interesting read. Good job of balancing sides of the issue and putting it into a larger perspective of development vs. conservation needs.
Second Place: Erika Ritchie, Orange County Register , “Whale entanglements on the West Coast rise again in 2018, is this the new normal?”

Best Profile
First Place: Anh Do, LA Times, “Driven from an Anaheim tent city, a couple struggles with addiction and the realities of Orange County’s homeless”
Comments: Well-written. Compassionate and honest look at one couple’s struggles with homelessness.
Second Place: Theresa Walker, Orange County Register, “Judge David O. Carter and Attorney Brooke Weitzman Force Orange County to Address Homelessness”
Third Place: Deepa Bharath, Orange County Register, “Meet CHOC’s ‘Dancing Doc’ who livens up hospital rooms for kids who haven’t smiled in days”

Best Education Story
First Place: Deepa Bharath, Orange County Register, “Orange County school districts are resisting a California sex ed law passed more than two years ago”
Comments: The reporter did an excellent job communicating the impact of school districts ignoring a state law. People care about people not concepts and this story certainly drilled down the people on both sides of the story. The reporter gathered excellent quotes that conveyed the true pain felt by those impassioned by the issue.
Second Place: Daniel Langhorne, Daily Pilot, Nordic Star
Third Place: Emily Rasmussen, Orange County Register, “Fraternity Cuts Ties With CSULB Amid Sexual Misconduct Investigations”

Best Music/Entertainment Review
First Place: Paul Hodgins, Voice of OC, “South Coast Rep’s Season Opener Plays With a Classic and Gets Mixed Results”
Comments: Even though I have not seen this play, nor am I a fan of Jane Austin, Hodgins’ critique helped me understand the play and reasoning behind the critique he offers. Hodgins is obviously well versed in the subject and delivers an educated, fair review without being heavy handed or insensitive.
Second Place: Timothy Mangan, Voice of OC, “Living Composers Reign During Choral Arts Initiative Concert”
Third Place: Peter Lefevre, Voice of OC, “The Chorale Brings ‘The Creation’ to Segerstrom . . . Finally!”

Best Arts/Culture Review
First Place: Dave Barton, OC Weekly, “OCC’s ‘Jim DeFrance: A Retrospective’ Is a Graceful Ode to Life’s Release”
Comments: Descriptive and eloquent, Dave reels the reader in and is a captivating writer. Outstanding job!
Second Place: Richard Chang, LA Weekly, “The Broad’s Jasper Johns Exhibit Is a Must-See Survey”
Third Place: Dave Barton, OC Weekly, “Female Victimization and Childhood Trauma Inform a Muddled Show at Grand Central Art Center”

Best Food/Restaurant Review
First Place: Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register, “Journeyman’s Food & Drink”
Comments: Brad does a wonderful job of giving the reader a sense of place and you can tell he really does his homework on the background of the restaurants. This review engaged me from the first graph to the very end. He’s entertaining and someone I would follow consistently because of the smooth writing skills.
Second Place: Edwin Goei, OC Weekly, “Mr. Taco Nice in Anaheim Does Tacos and Pizzas and Taco Pizzas”
Third Place: Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register, “Oliver’s Osteria”

Best Travel Story
First Place: Anne Marie Panoringan, OC Weekly, “A Trip Through the Santa Ynez Backroads”
Comments: Finding treasure: Isn’t that what we all want from our travel writers? Panoringan’s guide through the Santa Ynez backroads is a map to buried treasure that just happens to be in the reader’s own backyard. Panoringan writes colorfully and clearly, slipping a full itinerary so smoothly into the story that it doesn’t bog down the prose or get in the way of her insider tips. Truly a travel story worth daydreaming about.
Second Place: Jessica Kwong, Orange County Register, “Is It Too Soon for Tourists to Return to Puerto Rico?”
Third Place: Patrice Marsters, OC Weekly
“Size Matters: Feel As Tall As a Giant, As Small As an Ant in Tucson”

Best Religion Story
First Place: Gabriel San Román, OC Weekly, “Karen Estremo’s the Dragon and the Rose Is the Hub for OC Pagans”
Comments: This was an engaging story. The author avoided the all too easy trap of stereotyping non-mainstream religion and its practitioners and gave us a compelling and meaningful look at these individuals’ lives. It was a well-constructed story and well edited. Very good job!
Second Place: Deepa Bharath, Orange County Register, “Her brothers were molested by a priest as kids. Now, she’s trying to reconcile with the Catholic Church”
Third Place: Susan Christian Goulding, Orange County Register, “For Christ Cathedral, Heat-Deflecting Quatrefoils Prove to be a Blessing”

David McQuay Award for Best Columnist
First Place: Norberto Santana Jr., Voice of OC
Comments: More than his ability to deliver well-written and well-thought out prose, the reporting Santana does is deep, targeted and human. The issues he tackles are not easy and he lets no one off the hook. It’s what columnists are supposed to do. And great columnists do over and over and over.
Second Place: Jonathan Lansner, The Orange County Register

Best News Story
First Place: Scott Schwebke with Beau Yarbrough, Orange County Register, “Victorville Prison Where Immigrant Detainees Held Built Atop Toxic Superfund Site“
Comments: Deeply reported story concerning public health, social justice and government transparency. Includes public document research as well as first-person anecdotal accounts of those affected now living in other parts of the country. An important story speaking for the disenfranchised.
Second Place: Priscella Vega and Julia Sclafani, Daily Pilot, “Arrests of white power leaders are a reminder of Huntington Beach’s painful past”
Third Place: Spencer Custodio, Voice of OC, “OC Sheriff’s Deputies Begin Evicting Hundreds of Homeless People from Santa Ana River Bank”

Best Investigative Story
First Place: Nick Gerda, Voice of OC, “Millions in ‘Dark Money’ Flowing to OC Congressional Races”
Comments: The reporter reviewed federal data to build this story — a story that would not have been told if not for his efforts. He then tracked the money to see how it could affect “high-stakes” elections. He also made national comparisons. Campaign finance stories are difficult. In this case, the reporter went to great lengths to collect data and put it into perspective for the reader. He made a story about a complicated money trail intriguing. The graphic was super helpful, too. The reporter, in expert fashion, put into perspective the national impact on a local election. Very well done and deserving of recognition.
Second Place: Gustavo Arellano, LA Taco, “Priest Accused of Abusing Boys in OC in the 80s Turns Up in Peru”

Best Beat Reporting
First Place: Cindy Carcamo, LA Times
Comments: Of all of the coverage of what’s going on at our southern border, your reporting more than anyone else’s made me feel like I was there. You write with such detail, with such keen observations. You humanized this issue and helped me connect with it in a new way. My heart ached when I read about the mother who stopped breastfeeding her infant in case they were separated. You being present and in the moment with people, and then reporting back what you saw and heard, was such valuable work.
Second Place: Deepa Bharath, Orange County Register
Third Place: Hillary Davis, Daily Pilot
Honorable Mention: Theresa Walker, Orange County Register

Marjorie Freeman Award for Best Humorous Story

First Place: Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register, “Worst thing I ate: A crime against barbecue in Irvine”
Comments: The clear winner in a very competitive category. So many great lines, but possibly the best was your afterthought that a pickle was a highlight of the meal.
Second Place: Kedric Francis, OC Family, “Fears of Being a Bad Dad”
Third Place: Anne Marie Panoringan, OC Weekly, “Del Frisco’s Grille’s Updated Brunch Is a John Hughes Movie”


Best Music/Entertainment Story or Review
First Place: Daniella Litvak, The Orange Curtain Revue, “Shrew! At South Coast Repertory”
Comments: Daniella’s review was the only entry in this category that seriously critiqued how a production succeeded and could have improved. It was a fair opinion, giving plenty of context for a twist on one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays.
Second Place: Jessica Peralta, Halloween Every Night, “The 17th Door Is More Traumatic Than Ever – In a Good Way”

Best News Feature Story
First Place: Bradley Zint, Behind the Badge, “DUI death in La Habra underscores importance of safe driving”
Comments: This powerful, poignant story really stood out amongst the pack because it married both the importance of the police work described and the personal story of a victim of DUI. The article was very well done from start to finish, with many emotional moments and depth. Some details, like the family members coming across the crash scene, gave me chills – a testament to how well written and paced the article was.
Second Place: Elysse James, Behind the Badge, “Anaheim Police use unconventional methods to clean up problem houses”
Third Place: Greg Hardesty, Behind the Badge, “Mental Health Day is a daily reality for members of Anaheim PD’s PERT”

Best Arts/Culture Story or Review
First Place: James Reed, Blue Door Magazine, “Singer Superlative”
Comments: Beautiful, crisp, descriptive writing really takes the reader to this property using all five senses. A captivating read up until the end.
Second Place: Erin Huffstutter, I Heart Costa Mesa, “Gabrielle’s Gift of Play”
Third Place: Shawn Price, Halloween Every Night, “‘Frankenstein’ Turns 200”

Best Feature Story
First Place: Erin Huffstutter, I Heart Costa Mesa, “Metal Fab & Etch A Sketch”
Comments: A really interesting, well-written story about an influential, creative family. Tackles some complex issues of neighborhood changes while profiling talented people. Only suggestion is to cut to the meat of the story a little more quickly with a lede focused more on the subjects of the article.
Second Place: Greg Hardesty, Behind the Badge, “An OCSD patrol deputy’s day can go from routine to horror in a flash, as he can attest”
Third Place: Bradley Zint, I Heart Costa Mesa, “Jumping Sheep”

Best News Story
First Place: Greg Hardesty, Behind the Badge, “APD targets illegal pot dispensaries, but they keep popping up like mushrooms”
Comments: This story stood out for the unique glimpse it offered readers inside a law enforcement investigation, complete with challenges, photographs and interviews with both police officers and people affected by the enforcement action. Really fascinating article.
Second Place: Greg Hardesty, Behind the Badge, “Armed neighbors detain attempted murder suspect in backyard until OCSD arrives”
Third Place: Jessica Peralta, Behind the Badge, “Westminster PD Narcan instructor first to administer life-saving nasal spray in the field”

Best Food/Restaurant Story or Review

First Place: Erin Huffstutter, I Heart Costa Mesa, “The Next Chapter for Church’s”
Comments: Erin was able to convey a story about an establishment that is uniquely Costa Mesa, but relatable and identifiable to readers everywhere. Dick Church’s epitomizes the mixing of the “two Costa Mesas,” the blending of the old and the new. A great read.
Second Place: Elysse James, Behind the Badge, “Chow Time: ‘Slammin’ Salmon’ tacos at Anaheim Fire & Rescue Station 7”
Third Place: Bradley Zint, I Heart Costa Mesa, “Go for the Green”


Best Blog
First Place: Jackie Moe, Backstage SoCal
Comments: An interesting and useful blog on this musical topic

Best News Broadcast or Video
First Place: Rick Reiff and Scott Hays, “Sheriff’s Battles,” Inside OC With Rick Reiff

Best Feature Broadcast or Video
First Place: Rebecca D’Auria, “Close Calls,” Behind the Badge
Second Place: Rick Reiff and Scott Hays, “Who Are the Homeless?,” Inside OC With Rick Reiff
Third Place: Shawn Price, “Eat, Drink And Celebrate Tim Burton Movies At Beetle House L.A.,” Halloween Every Night

Best Use of Multimedia

First Place: Jessica Peralta, “OCSD hosts annual helicopter training exercise for K9s,” Behind the Badge
Comments: Great use of video and high-resolution pictures. I also appreciate law enforcement becoming their own storytellers and a positive voice in the community. Plus the highlighted box on the site with their Twitter feed was terrific. Way to stay relevant with clever tweets on current topics and TV shows while not forgetting your mission.
Second Place: Norberto Santana Jr. and Susan Valot, “On OC: OC Kids on Immigration,” Voice of OC
Third Place: Erin Huffstutter, I Heart Costa Mesa

2018 OC Press Club Award Finalists

Award winners for the 2018 annual contest for work produced during 2017.


Best News Story

FIRST PLACE: Roxana Kopetman, Orange County Register

“Same visa Trump uses at his hotel helps bring workers to Southern California fairs”

​SECOND PLACE: Hannah Fry, Daily Pilot

“‘It’s been a night from hell’: Homeless pushed out of Santa Ana River face uncertain futures”

THIRD PLACE: Nick Gerda, Voice of OC

“Airport controversy heats up as supervisors award contract to low-ranked firm”

Best News Feature Story

FIRST PLACE: Cindy Carcamo, LA Times

“At Napa vineyards untouched by wildfires, the grapes must still be picked”

SECOND PLACE: Margot Roosevelt, Orange County Register

“Is Social Security cheating the disabled? The wait time to get a hearing is nearly 2 years”

THIRD PLACE: Denisse Salazar, Orange County Register

“Here’s one Santa Ana family’s story of generational gang violence. Can the city’s latest efforts break the cycle?”

Best Breaking News Story

FIRST PLACE: Hannah Fry, Daily Pilot

“Man shot and killed by H.B. officer was homeless Navy veteran, mother says; new video surfaces”

SECOND PLACE: Alma Fausto, Tony Saavedra, Sean Emery, Orange County Register

“Serial killings: 5th victim identified in cases of men accused of murdering 4 women”

THIRD PLACE: Luke Money, Daily Pilot

“Costa Mesa council unseats Katrina Foley as mayor and names Sandy Genis to replace her”

Best Investigative Story

FIRST PLACE: Jordan Graham and Tony Saavedra

“Southern California jailers are injuring inmates with abusive ‘chicken winging’ holds”

SECOND PLACE: R. Scott Moxley, OC Weekly

“Orange County’s informant scandal yields evidence of forensic science deception in murder trials”

THIRD PLACE: Nick Gerda, Voice of OC

“Hundreds of dollars in ‘gifts’ from contractors to Supervisor Nelson raise legal questions”

Best Series

FIRST PLACE: Teri Sforza, Orange County Register 

Twins Divided

SECOND PLACE: Denisse Salazar, Orange County Register

Gang Victims: A Program Aimed at Helping and Healing

THIRD PLACE: Barbara Venezia, Daily Pilot

Newport Beach and Costa Mesa should do background checks on commission applicants

Best Beat Reporting 

FIRST PLACE: Nick Gerda, Voice of OC

SECOND PLACE: Deepa Bharath, Orange County Register

THIRD PLACE: Meghann Cuniff, Daily Journal

Best Cannabis Coverage

Brooke Edwards Staggs, Orange County Register

Watchdog Award

Orange County Register Staff

Best Public Affairs Story

FIRST PLACE: Mary Carreon, OC Weekly

“Orange County’s first needle exchange tries to bring hope to a wretched situation” 

SECOND PLACE: Jordan Graham, Orange County Register

“Orange County homeless deaths hit all-time high”

THIRD PLACE: Jeff Collins, Orange County Register

“Eviction decline is no solace for thousands of renters losing their homes”

Best Environmental  News Story 


“To desalinate or not to desalinate: UCI debate over controversial Huntington Beach plant”

SECOND PLACE: Mary Carreon, OC Weekly

“Activists protest plans to bury nuclear waste at San Onofre State Beach”

Best Feature Story

FIRST PLACE: Chris Haire, Orange County Register

“Is time running out on Holy Jim Canyon? Nature, feds are threatening” 

SECOND PLACE: Mary Carreon, OC Weekly

“Tree of life nursery is saving our ecosystem one seed at a time”

THIRD PLACE: Donia Moore, San Clemente Journal

“San Clemente Island got your goat?”

Best Education Story

FIRST PLACE: Roxana Kopetman, Orange County Register

“Pink slips lead to special court hearing for hundreds of local teachers facing possible layoffs”

SECOND PLACE: Roxana Kopetman, Orange County Register

“Anaheim Union denying hundreds of school transfer requests, sparking tears and appeals”

THIRD PLACE: Roxana Kopetman, Orange County Register

“What is a cultural graduation ceremony? Universities host celebrations for blacks, Latinos, gays, veterans and others”

Best Religion Story

FIRST PLACE: Gabriel San Roman, OC Weekly 

“A gay pastor leaves his Santa Ana flock, exposing the United Methodist Church’s LGBT rift”

SECOND PLACE: Deepa Bharath, Orange County Register

“A Bible and a gun? How churches, temples, mosques are rethinking security”

THIRD PLACE: Cindy Carcamo, LA Times 

“Like an invisibility cloak, Latina Muslims find the hijab hides their ethnicity–from Latinos” 

Best Round-Up or Best Of

FIRST PLACE: Edwin Goei, OC Weekly

“Korean fried chicken is becoming a thing in Orange County. Her are three new spots”

SECOND PLACE: Brad A. Johnson, Orange County Register

“These are Orange County’s 20 Best Mexican Restaurants”

Best Business Story

FIRST PLACE: Margot Roosevelt, Orange County Register

“Is it fair that the amount of bonding time you get with your baby hinges on the size of your employer?”

SECOND PLACE: Jeff Collins, Orange County Register

“Investor demand for SoCal apartments contributes to rising rents”

THIRD PLACE: Gabriel San Roman, OC Weekly

“Will Buena Park’s new retail center source put it on the map–or be its biggest boondoggle?”

Best Sports Story 

FIRST PLACE: Ryan Kartje, OC Register

“Inside the unregulated world of recruiting consulting services”

SECOND PLACE: Mirin Fader, OC Register

“California doesn’t regulate athletic trainers. Here’s why that’s bad for high school athletes”

THIRD PLACE: Chris Haire, OC Register

​”On Saturday, a rematch will play out in Little Saigon”

Best Arts/Culture Story

FIRST PLACE: Gabriel San Ramon

“El Centro Cultural de Mexico finally gets a home but will next generation of activists come”

SECOND PLACE: Cynthia Rebolledo

“Frederico Medina captures life and culture in the golden city”

Best Arts/Culture Review

FIRST PLACE: Dave Barton 

“William wrays seemingly straightforward building portraits”

SECOND PLACE: Christopher Trela

“Artscapes: Backhausdance premiers quartet of new works at The Barclay”

THIRD PLACE: Dave Barton

“Laguna art museum beginnings of the California School of Fine Arts”

Best Music/Entertainment Story

FIRST PLACE: Gabriel San Roman, OC Weekly

“After her mother’s death, turntables brought DJ Lala out of depression and into the spotlight”

SECOND PLACE: Nate Jackson, OC Weekly

“Meet Lorn Conner: The Happy Coachella Guy”

THIRD PLACE (TIE): Kathleen Luppi, Times OC

“Pat Boone”

THIRD PLACE (TIE): Patrice Marsters, OC Weekly

“Izabella Alvarez is only 13, but has already appeared on Westworld, Shameless–with more to come”

Best Music/Entertainment Review

FIRST PLACE: Liz Goldner

“The Monster Builder: Amy Freed’s Take on Architecture as a Metaphor for Life”

Best Food/Restaurant Story

FIRST PLACE: Caitlin Yoskiko Kandil, Times OC 

“Little Saigon”

Best Food/Restaurant Review

FIRST PLACE: Edwin Goei, OC Weekly

“Tin Vuong’s LSXO”

SECOND PLACE: Edwin Goei, OC Weekly

“New Northgate Gonzales Market”

THIRD PLACE: Brad Johnson, OC Register

“Pacific Hideaway”

Best Travel Story

FIRST PLACE: Edwin Goei, OC Weekly

“Montreal has poutine, yes, but go with the Jewish food first”

SECOND PLACE: Anne Valdespino, OC Register

“Touring Castle Country in Scotland”

THIRD PLACE: Kedric Francis

“Road trips for a realist”

Best Profile

FIRST PLACE: Ryan Kartje

“The Ballfather: Lavar Ball and his three sons intend to change basketball forever”

SECOND PLACE: Keith Sharon, OC Register

“Would you kill if ordered? Orange County resident and WWII Navy survivor of Port Chicago disaster faced that question”

THIRD PLACE: Margot Roosevelt, OC Register

“July 4th fireworks: Meet the Orange County maestro who lights the nation’s skies”

David McQuay Award for Best Columnist 

FIRST PLACE: Norberto Santana Jr, Voice of OC

SECOND PLACE: Kedric Francis, Orange County Register

THIRD PLACE: Joe Vargas, Behind the Badge

Best Political Columnist

Norberto Santana Jr., Voice of OC

Best Sports Columnist 

David Jerome

Marjorie Freeman Award for Best Humorous Story

FIRST PLACE: Kedric Francis, Orange County Register

“Women of Influence”

​SECOND PLACE: Anne Valdespino, Orange County Register

“These are the worst restaurant and food trends of 2017”

THIRD PLACE: Luke Money, Daily Pilot

“Christmas is the most pun-derful time of the year for this Costa Mesa family”

HONORABLE MENTION: David Jerome, Orange County Register

“Scattered Thoughts for Your April Fool’s Day”


Best News Feature Story 

FIRST PLACE: Greg Hardesty, Behind the Badge

“OCSD deputies recount terror in Las Vegas: ‘I had never felt that close to death before'”

SECOND PLACE: Jessica Peralta, Behind the Badge

“OCSD’S TSA K9s are federally trained dogs at the ready to sniff out explosives”

THIRD PLACE: Greg Hardesty, Behind the Badge

“Nearly killed by DUI suspect, Orange police officer is humbled by outpouring of support”

Best Feature Story


“Sarah Rafael Garcia Captures Santa Ana’s History and Gentrification Through Fairy Tales”

SECOND PLACE: Shawn Price, Behind the Badge

“Anaheim Fire & Rescue strike teams: ready for the long haul”

THIRD PLACE: Jessica Peralta, Behind the Badge

​”OCSD’s human remains detection dog, Cinder, is hard at work in training” 

Best Music/Entertainment Story or Review

FIRST PLACE: Jessica Peralta


Best Arts/Culture Story or Review

FIRST PLACE: Liz Goldner

“Deconstructing Liberty”

Best Food/Restaurant Story or Review

FIRST PLACE: Shawn Price, Behind the Badge

“Chow Time with Anaheim Fire & Rescue: Coq au vin”


Best Blog

FIRST PLACE: Bill Rams, Behind the Badge 

Best News Broadcast or Video

FIRST PLACE: Anthony Porrazzo, Spotlight Video

“Mock DUI event at Santa Margarita Catholic High School”

SECOND PLACE: Rick Reiff, Inside OC with Rick Reiff

“Campus Conflict”

Best Feature Broadcast or Video

FIRST PLACE: Antony Porrazzo, Spotlight Video

“Father Damien-JSerra High School Chaplain”

SECOND PLACE: Rick Reiff, Inside OC with Rick Reiff

“He Writes the Songs”

THIRD PLACE: Shawn Price, Halloween Every Night

“Night of the Living Dead”

Best Sports Broadcast or Video

FIRST PLACE: Rick Reiff,  Inside OC with Rick Reiff

“After the Fall” with Todd Marinovich

Best TV News Program

FIRST PLACE: Rick Reiff, Inside OC with Rick Reiff

Best Use of Multimedia

FIRST PLACE: Gabriel San Roman, OC Weekly

“OC Speakly podcast”


Best Cover

FIRST PLACE: Dustin Ames, OC Weekly 

“Sept. 8, 2017”

SECOND PLACE: John Cheresh

​”The Story of OCSA”

THIRD PLACE: Dustin Ames, OC Weekly

“Best of 2017”

HONORABLE MENTION: Denise Smaldino Rainey, OC Family

Best Page Design

FIRST PLACE: Denise Smaldino Rainey, OC Family

“Fairy Tale Manor”

SECOND PLACE: Dustin Ames, OC Weekly

“Away & Home Summer Guide 2017”

THIRD PLACE: Denise Smaldino Rainey, OC Family

“Make a Splash This Summer!”

Best Graphic

FIRST PLACE: Jeff Goertzen, Shark Tech

Best Illustration 

Leslie Agan

Best Political Cartoon

Leslie Agan

“Snitch Trap”


Best News Photo

FIRST PLACE: Richard Koehler

SECOND PLACE: Jeff Antenore

THIRD PLACE: Brian Feinzimer

Best Feature Photo

FIRST PLACE: Steven Georges

SECOND PLACE: Steven Georges

THIRD PLACE: Christopher Trela 

Best Photo Essay (print)

Dustin Ames, OC Weekly

“With 18 Bajillion Things to Do, See and Eat, No Single Trip to Tokyo Will Leave You Satisfied” 

Best Slideshow (online)

FIRST PLACE (TIE): Brian Feinzimer 

“Anaheim Hills Blaze”

FIRST PLACE (TIE): Steven Georges

“Homeless series”


The Real O.C. Award

FIRST PLACE: Deepa Bharath, OC Register

“Most Influential 2017: Rida Hamida and Benajmin Vazquez bring halal tacos, cultural mingling, to mosques throughout Southern California”

SECOND PLACE: Brooke Edwards Staggs, OC Register

“Seniors board ‘cannabus’ for trip to medical marijuana dispensary”

THIRD PLACE: Caitlin Yoshiko Kandil, Times OC 

“Latino Muslims find home at mosque led by Cambodian refugees”