Only a handful of Orange County reporters dedicated themselves to investigative journalism on a daily basis before last March.
That month saw the birth of Norberto Santana's dream: the Voice of OC, the county's first non-profit investigative news outfit.
Now, OC has two handfuls of probing muckrakers.
The Voice doesn't land each morning with a loud thump on doorsteps, but it has nonetheless made its online presence felt in a place where crooks seem drawn to public office.
In a December online posting, Santana noted that he and his small but feisty staff performed "great work" by informing the public about scandals including the state's high-speed rail debacle, sheriff's department corruption, OC Fair sale oddities, perk-loaded bureaucrats and politicians who routinely break open records laws, and the controversy surrounding the decision by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas to fire his would-be successor, Todd Spitzer.
"That kind of daily presence is what non-profit journalism is all about," Santana wrote. "It's a professional, community newsroom, keeping constant watch over the little things across a slew of local governments every day. Consider us a baby monitor for your local government--a mechanism that ensures alarms go off before things go nuclear."
From my perspective, the Voice has been especially valuable in its efforts to force secret-loving local government bureaucrats to obey California's public records act.
But the veteran muckraker notes that his brand of journalism "is not free." The Voice, which has been largely funded by the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA), is seeking additional donors. (That fact helped prompt public employee union critics at the Friends For Fullerton's Future blog to coin the name: Voice of OCEA.)
"We need your support to keep up the fight," wrote Santana, a former reporter at TheOrangeCountyRegister.
If you'd like to contribute to the Voice and take advantage of year-end tax breaks, go HERE.
Says Santana, "You can count on your donation being put to good use."