Times Community News wins 14 O.C. Press Club awards

Knitty, a 13-year-old llama, stands guard along the east sound berm to the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa last December.
Knitty, a 13-year-old llama, stands guard along the east sound berm to the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa last December. Daily Pilot reporter Sara Cardine’s story on the goat herd clearing up the city’s hillside headache earned second place in feature story at the 2021 Orange County Press Club Awards.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Times Community News won 14 Orange County Press Club awards at its 2021 virtual awards ceremony on Thursday night.

Daily Pilot reporters Sara Cardine and Andrew Turner combined for six awards. Cardine won first place in the education category for her July 2020 story on how a push for reopening schools without masks had ties to a pro-charter group.

Cardine also earned second place in feature story, for her story on a goat herd clearing up a hillside headache, as well as second-place finish in environmental news for a story on Costa Mesa’s Fairview Park Wetlands.

“It’s a privilege to be a reporter in a place like Orange County, where there is never a dull moment and where groups strive to accomplish visions they believe will move communities forward but often face conflict from people with different ideas,” Cardine said. “That dynamism keeps things interesting and provides fertile soil for storytellers and journalists of all stripes.”

Turner earned a trio of second-place finishes. He earned second in sports feature for his story on outgoing Newport Harbor High School throws coach Tony Ciarelli, and his story on the aftermath of Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli’s death in January 2020 also took second place in breaking news.

Turner’s story on students returning to class in Laguna Beach last October was second in the education category, as the Daily Pilot swept the top two spots.

“I am thrilled to have been recognized for work in three distinctively different categories in a year that displaced us from what we were comfortable with and introduced us to new opportunities,” Turner said.

“I am proud to work with the staff and contributors at the Daily Pilot and L.A. Times Community News. Through the challenges that a pandemic presents, we stayed connected to the people and issues in our communities.”

Andrew Turner’s breaking news story after the helicopter crash that killed OCC baseball coach John Altobelli and eight others won second place.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Daily Pilot managing editor Carol Cormaci said that while the articles entered in the contest represented just a small amount of her staff’s work week in and week out, it was gratifying to capture both first- and second-place in education writing.

“Until you have tried covering a school district for a news outlet you just don’t know how difficult it is,” Cormaci said.

“State and federal education acronyms fly at you at warp speed, there are sometimes warring factions involved and you’re trying to wrestle everything into coherent sentences the average reader will understand and will benefit from knowing. Sara and Andrew should be very proud of taking the top two places in that category ... I feel beyond lucky that we have such hard-working journalists on our team.”

Longtime Daily Pilot columnist Patrice Apodaca earned first place in the best columnist category, named after the late David McQuay.

TCN publication TimesOC also won several awards. Meghann Cuniff was second place in best news story for her December story chronicling Santa Ana’s fight with Orange County over jail releases.

Gabriel San Román’s story on one of the first Black cops in Orange County was honorable mention in the best feature story category, and San Román also was second in the best humorous story category for his story on comedy in the coronavirus age.

Bradley Zint won first place in the food/restaurant story category for his story on a local cheesemonger.

Contributor Edwin Goei won three awards for TimesOC, including second place in food/restaurant review for a story on “ghost kitchens” and third place for a story on a new restaurant in Costa Mesa.

Goei also won second in best roundup for his first-person story on navigating drive-throughs and takeout during the pandemic.

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