62nd SoCal Journalism Awards Winners – Online

NEWS – Government/Politics

Nick Gerda, Voice of OC, “OC Moves Millions from Health Agency to Help Cover Sheriff Overruns”

Judges’ comment: The winner showcases journalism’s watchdog function and proves the importance of local reporting in government accountability. The reporter shows a depth of understanding of the topic and performs a real public service by explaining how certain government functions end up getting funded the way they do. Graphics and overall presentation make the piece even more informative.

2nd Morgan Stephens, USC Annenberg Media, “Bernie Sanders Ascends from 2016 Underdog to 2020 Front-Runner”

3rd Joe Rubin, Capital & Main, “The Gun Range Next Door: A Public Health Failure”

NEWS – Culture

Morgan Sung, Mashable, “Storm Area 51: The meme came to life and it was actually kind of beautiful”

Judges’ comment: An excellent example of ethnographic journalism, this online news story about enthusiasts pursuing aliens in the Nevada desert by Sung is entertaining.

2nd Joe Rihn, Capital & Main, “Expiring Affordability Covenant Threatens Chinatown Tenants”

3rd Brian Steinberg, Variety, “Coca-Cola Will Revive New Coke in Alliance with Netflix, ‘Stranger Things’”

HARD NEWS – General

Spencer Custodio, Voice of OC, “Angels Make $100 Million a Year at Stadium While Anaheim Barely Gets a Slice”

Judges’ comment: Well-written and researched, this story pulls back the veil to demonstrate how the city of Anaheim is losing big while the Angels run roughshod over any opposition to their maintenance plan. Great use of experts to show how the city is one of many municipalities to subsidize a ballpark and get nothing in return. 

2nd Joe Rubin, Capital & Main, “Lead Dust Closes Bay Area Gun Range and Kids’ Gymnastics Center”

3rd Spencer Custodio and Nick Gerda, Voice of OC, “Federal Judge Carter Calls OC’s Skyrocketing Homeless Deaths a ‘Public Health Crisis’”


Chris Gardner and Seth Abramovitch, The Hollywood Reporter, “Jordan Peele on Making Movies After ‘Us’: ‘I Don’t See Myself Casting a White Dude As the Lead’”

Judges’ comment: Gardner and Abramovitch write a fascinating piece about one of the most popular black filmmakers today.

2nd Matt Donnelly, Variety, “Inside ‘America’s Got Talent’: Ousted Judges Had Complained of Toxic Culture”

3rd Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg News, “Netflix Is Cutting Back on Standup Comedy Specials”


Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg News, “Bollywood Rapper Sets Viewer Record YouTube Isn’t Talking About”

Judges’ comment: In an engaging piece about a new phenomenon in our digital age, Shaw succeeds in telling a story about an unusual rapper.

2nd Chris Willman, Variety, “Estranged from Mariah Carey, ‘All I Want for Christmas’ Co-Writer Calls No. 1 ‘Bittersweet’”

3rd Jem Aswad and Shirley Halperin, Variety, “Apple Is the Real Winner in Spotify’s Battle Against Songwriters’ Rate Hike”


Mark Bergen and Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg News, “Are the Kids Alright?”
https://bloom.bg/2xKa7Du | https://bloom.bg/2wUfLDc | https://bloom.bg/2Uxt8SJ | https://bit.ly/3dOWhAi

Judge’s comment: Bergen and Shaw’s winning entry exhibited enterprise, initiative and depth of research in bringing to light the complex challenges to YouTube and society.

2nd Daniel Heimpel, The Chronicle of Social Change, “L.A. Police Failed to Investigate 4,000 Serious Child Abuse Reports in 2018 and 2019”

3rd Celeste Fremon, Witness LA, “Facing the Inferno: Why Wasn’t LA County Probation Prepared to Evacuate Kids & Staff at Campus Kilpatrick When a Monster Wildfire Struck?”


Lauren Lee White, WitnessLA, “#MeToo Behind Bars: Sexual Misconduct At The LA County Women’s Jail”

Judges’ comment: In a disturbing feature about a serious issue, White illuminates a difficult situation for inmates.

2nd Daniel Heimpel, The Chronicle of Social Change, “EXCLUSIVE: New Details Reveal How Two Social Workers Fought, But Failed, to Save 4-Year-Old Noah Cuatro”

3rd Joe Rubin, Capital & Main, “The Gun Range Next Door: A Public Health Failure”


Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter, “Meet the Writer of ‘Gemini Man’ (Who Didn’t Actually Write ‘Gemini Man’)”

Judges’ comment: Kit tells the fascinating story about a credited writer who shouldn’t have been in this classic Hollywood tale.

2nd Aaron Couch, The Hollywood Reporter, “”He Had Death on His Face”: Kubrick, ‘Full Metal Jacket’ and an Actor’s Heartbreak”

3rd Jeff Goldsmith, Backstory Magazine, “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood: The Writer-Director (Non-Spoilers)”


Randy Lewis, Los Angeles Times, “In 2019, country music has a raging identity crisis. For Ken Burns, that’s a 100-year-old story”

Judges’ comment: In telling a story about country music and filmmaker Ken Burns’s documentary about its history, Lewis has created a thought-provoking piece.

2nd Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press, “The Talking Dead: Life During and After ‘Game of Thrones’”

3rd Chris Willman, Variety, “Ken Burns on ‘Country Music’ and Why Merle, Hank, Dwight, Loretta and Lil Nas X Matter”

NEWS FEATURE – Music/Theater

Chris Willman, Variety, “Interview with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke”

Judges’ comment: In Willman’s interview with a member of a legendary music group, he again enlightens readers with worthwhile information.

2nd Chris Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, “Inside Tom’s One-Hour Photo in L.A.’s Koreatown”

3rd Paul Hodgins, Voice of OC, “After 40 Years of Humbugging, O.C.’s Scrooge is Hanging Up His Top Hat”


Judith Lewis Mernit, Capital & Main, “Is the American Dream Drying Up in California’s Central Valley?”

Judges’ comment: Mernit presents a stunning and frightening story about groundwater supplies poisoning rural residents with high arsenic levels and parasitic intestinal worms in a San Joaquin Valley community founded by African Americans as a “black utopia,” a “Tuskegee of the West.” It pits local residents against large industrial scale farms that drain water from diminishing underground aquifers.

2nd Elaine Low, Variety, “The One Where ‘Friends’ Teaches Fans English, American Style”

3rd Deborah Zara Kobylt, Deborah Kobylt LIVE, “Deborah Kobylt LIVE: Sharon Feldstein and Patsy Noah”

NEWS FEATURE – General News

Grayson Schmidt, Cronkite News at Arizona State University, “Role Reversal: Teen Caring for Father with Alzheimer’s Shares Her Experience”

Judges’ comment: This lede paints a good picture that hooks a reader into the story. A good mix of the first-hand account and research material.

2nd Patrick Shanley, The Hollywood Reporter, “‘Sextortion’ Via ‘Fortnite’: How Video Games Can Open Doors for Predators”

3rd Amy DePaul, Rian Dundon and Gema Galiana, In These Times/Economic Hardship Reporting Project, “Honoring the Workers Killed on the Job”


Cameron Crowe, TheWrap, “Read the Unpublished Cameron Crowe Story That Inspired ‘Almost Famous’”

Judges’ comment: This is a standout among the entries in this category. It’s surprising it went unpublished for so long. Intriguing from beginning to end.

2nd Farley Elliott, Eater LA, “Eggs Marks the Spot”

3rd Los Angeles Times Staff, Los Angeles Times, “101 Best Restaurants 2019”


Shaya Tayefe Mohajer, Columbia Journalism Review, “Unearthing the Black newspaper that sold the California dream to freed slaves”

Judges’ comment: There’s no better way to learn about history than through a newspaper. Fantastic story.

2nd Agnes Constante, NBC News, “’I Can’t Find Any Peace Here’: Raised in the U.S. and Deported to Cambodia, Refugees Struggle to Build a New Life”

3rd Shikha Dalmia, Reason, “ICE Used Dirty Tactics to Lure Foreign Students with a Fake University”


Sasha Urban, uscannenbergmedia.com, “48 male patients sexually abused by USC campus doctor”

Judges’ comment: This story was deeply investigative and very well-researched. It highlighted abuse in the LGBT community rather than giving too much spotlight to lurid details.

2nd Meghan McCarron, Eater, “The Death and Life of America’s Lesbian Bars”

3rd Angelika Albaladejo, Capital & Main, “Child Law Penalizes Moms for Abusive Partners”


Kaidi “Ruby” Yuan, USC Annenberg Media, “Fourth and last defendant sentenced to life in prison in beating death of USC student”

Judges’ comment: A concise recounting of the tragic killing of a Chinese USC student and the punishment of the perpetrators reminding us of how we must be aware of the violence and criminality plaguing our college campuses. And how we must make institutions of education safe for all.


Susan Karlin, Fast Company, “How Poppy Northcutt cracked NASA’s boys’ club and became a feminist icon”

Judges’ comment: Very inspiring story. Everyone should read this. It gives the reader a great sense of history and provides highly illuminating quotes that give the reader an understanding of what makes Northcutt tick.

2nd Barbara Kingsley-Wilson, Long Beach Post, “Longtime Schools Chief Contemplating Retirement/When Is a Trick Question”

3rd Vic Gerami, The Blunt Post, “Social Justice Drives Sepi Shyne”


Chandra Bozelko, Creators Syndicate, “The Outlaw – Insider Perspective on Criminal Justice”
http://bit.ly/2I9qVGg | http://bit.ly/3aiiDb6 | http://bit.ly/2wfN96D | http://bit.ly/387vv2l

Judges’ comment: In a highly competitive category Chandra Bozelko lands on top of the heap. These stories about the criminal justice system, including a column about the rights of convicted felon being refused the right to rent an Airbnb, are enhanced by the fact that Bozelko herself spent six years in a maximum-security prison.

2nd Ruksana Hussain, Cuisine Noir Magazine, “African-American Entrepreneurs”

3rd Brian Addison, Long Beach Post, “Brian Addison of the Long Beach Post”


Ryan Lo and Chandra Bozelko, The Week, “What Democratic candidates need to admit about criminal justice reform”

Judges’ comment: This was a thoughtful, insightful, timely and educational piece that guided the public debate in a new direction. At its best, commentary doesn’t just repeat talking points or bromides seen everywhere; it informs, educates, and makes you rethink, even if slightly, the best direction for society to go. Well-written and well-researched with the potential to be influential on the public conversation.

2nd Owen Gleiberman, Variety, “What Barack Obama’s Year-End Movie List Reveals About Him”

3rd Benyamin Chao, VoiceWaves, “California’s Wall Between Immigrants and Health Care”


Norberto Santana, Jr., Voice of OC, “Quick Housing Options Needed to Spur OC Homelessness Efforts”
http://bit.ly/2FREGcp | http://bit.ly/2GCG6I5 | http://bit.ly/33Iu3kL

Judges’ comment: This column excelled in so many ways: incisive reporting supported by extensive, balanced background and enhanced by the context, perspective and informed opinion by a journalist who appears to live and breathe his community and his profession. His superb reporting and writing allowed his readers and audience to draw enlightened conclusions of their own.

2nd Daniel Guss, CityWatchLA, “Love and Political Lessons from a Special Needs Rescue Dog”

3rd Vic Gerami, The Blunt Post, “Who is Councilmember Paul Krekorian Working For?”


Shannon O’Connor, The Hollywood Reporter, “How ‘Orange Is The New Black’ Helped Me Realize I Was Gay”

Judges’ comment: A well-written, deeply personal essay that explained how a trail-blazing show changed the writer’s life.

2nd Sahra Sulaiman, Streetsblog LA, “Homelessness Coverage that Punches Down: Could We Just Not?”

3rd M.G. Lord, The Hollywood Reporter, “Captain Marvel Has Been Battling Misogyny Way Before the Current Trolls”


Michael J. Duarte, NBCLA, “One Year After the Borderline Tragedy, Love and Sports Help Provide Strength to a Grieving Community”

Judges’ comment: Duarte’s poignant article about the Dodgers team hosting a luncheon, signing autographs, and providing comfort for the first responders, survivors and families of victims of the Thousand Oaks’ mass shooting at the country bar shows a community’s healing process. The Dodgers even did country line dancing with them to give them back a sense of normalcy.

2nd Evan Desai and Scott Rowe, Cronkite News at Arizona State University, “St. John Bosco: NCAA ‘Football Factory’ Is Based on Brotherhood”

3rd Mirin Fader, Bleacher Report, “The Life of LaMelo”


Mark E. Potts, Los Angeles Times, “How CTE changes everything about football”

Judges’ comment: Great look into a controversial topic.

2nd Alex Demyanenko, Capital & Main, “Dodgers Baseball: The Blue and Very White”

3rd Michael J. Duarte, NBCLA, “Now That Game of Thrones is Over, Tune In to the Real Life Version: The Lakers”


Joshua Yehl, IGN, “How I Learned to Grieve and Heal Through Star Wars”

Judges’ comment: A really moving and lovely story, well-told, personal but also thoughtful on its take on the industry, that stuck with me the most of all the entries.

2nd Owen Gleiberman, Variety, “‘Yesterday’ and ‘Rocketman’ Are Pop-Music Fantasias That Never Touch the Greatness of Their Subjects”

3rd Jenelle Riley, Variety, “A Fat Girl’s Take on ‘Shrill’ (Column)”


Peter Lefevre, Voice of OC, “Does Opera Have a Future in Orange County?”

Judges’ comment: Thorough and interesting, even to readers who respects yet doesn’t enjoy opera.

2nd Danielle Turchiano, Variety, “Why Mariah Carey’s ‘Never Too Far’ Could Have Been a Post-9/11 Anthem”

3rd Shirley Halperin, Variety, “Put a Fork in Woodstock 50, Please”


Bennet Kelley, Internet Law Center’s Cyber Report, “Six Things to Know About Devin Nunes’ Bizarre Lawsuit Against Twitter and a Tweeting Cow”

Judges’ comment: Well-written and well-researched overview and presentation of facts. Thank you for not overusing “legalese” and for clarifying the case for the layperson without oversimplifying it.

2nd Brad A. Johnson, Food & Travel Blog, “Review: Lo Sereno Hotel in Troncones, Mexico”

3rd Sharon Waxman, TheWrap, “The Decade When Hollywood Cracked Open – In Praise of the 2010s”


Eriq Gardner and Ashley Cullins, The Hollywood Reporter, “THR, ESQ”
http://bit.ly/2M3GS3D | https://bit.ly/2Vvrq3w | https://bit.ly/2V9mv9y | https://bit.ly/2XwcpRM | https://bit.ly/2VsnFMm 

Judges’ comment: Great use of a blog to tell the stories behind the stories.

2nd Joe Linton, Sahra Sulaiman, Damien Newton and Kris Fortin, Streetsblog Los Angeles, “December 12, 2019”

3rd Overseen by Aaron Couch and Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter, “Heat Vision”


Capital & Main, Capital & Main, www.capitalandmain.com

Judges’ comment: Homepage is clearly sorted. Navigation menu works with any number of sub-menu items. Responsiveness flows nicely. Links throughout the site are very noticeable and include internal, external and attachment links.

2nd Eater LA, Eater LA

3rd Sonya Quick, Voice of OC


KTLA Digital Team, KTLA 5 News, “KTLA.com

Judges’ comment: The team behind KTLA’s digital wing understand readers want information quickly and succinctly. Excellent community journalism!

2nd Variety, Variety, “Variety.com”

3rd Matthew Belloni and Tom Seeley, The Hollywood Reporter, “THR.com”

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