Daily Pilot, TimesOC writers capture O.C. Press Club awards

John Guerzon play-acts Gene Simmons from the rock band KISS, during the Art of Music exhibit at the 2023 Orange County Fair.
Floor man John Guerzon play-acts Gene Simmons from the rock band KISS, during the Art of Music exhibit at the Orange County Fair in 2023. Daily Pilot reporter Andrew Turner won first place for his story on the exhibit Thursday night at the annual Orange County Press Club awards gala.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)
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Staff writers for Times Community News’ Daily Pilot and TimesOC newspapers collected several journalism awards Thursday night when the Orange County Press Club held its annual gala at Anaheim Hills Country Club to honor exceptional work produced in 2023.

Capturing first place in the category of Best Music/Entertainment Story was the Daily Pilot’s Andrew Turner, for his feature “’Musical Meltdown Moments’: Art of Music Experience at O.C. Fair prompts visceral reactions.”

Turner’s story provided a lively look at one of the fair’s most unique exhibits last year.

TimesOC writer Sarah Mosqueda was right behind Turner as the awards were handed out in the same category. Her article, “Santa Ana marks Chicano Heritage Month with a festival and new mural,” came in second place.


Turner also won second place for his moving sports story, “Brayden Belden ‘on top of the world’ with Brooks Street surfing success.”

Gabriel San Román, today a TimesOC reporter who in 2023 was writing for the Los Angeles Times, was presented the club’s “Real O.C. Award” by his friend and Times’ columnist Gustavo Arellano. The special award was given for his feature, “He’s the first Black council member of a former Orange County ‘sundown town.’”

San Román also won second place under the Best Education category for “Whose stories do we tell? Israeli-Palestinian tensions polarize an Orange County school district,” second in Best News Feature for “La Habra condo owners see a gaping chasm where their greenbelt used to be” and third place under Environmental News for his story “Amid crumbling cliffs, Orange County considers moving its famously scenic rail line inland,” all of which were written for The Times.

Daily Pilot writers Matt Szabo and Sara Cardine garnered honorable mentions. Szabo received the nod for his political news story about Huntington Beach’s conservative City Councilman Pat Burns’ proposal the council either amend or cancel the city’s longstanding Declaration of Policy on Human Dignity. Cardine was recognized for her environmental story that described how O.C. Sanitation was working to introduce a new technology that could change how the industry treats wastewater.

Contributing writer Edwin Goei was recognized not only for his work on behalf of TimesOC, for which he writes food reviews, but also for others. He racked up one first-place award, three second-place awards, one third-place award and one honorable mention.