The Orange County Press Club has a rich history dating to the 1950s. Each year members gather for an annual event to acknowledge their peers.
The 2018 Annual OC Press Club Awards dinner gala will take place June 14 at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa in Fashion Island.
The club has chosen to honor two men for their outstanding achievements in journalism: Rick Reiff, editor at large of the Orange County Business Journal, and Santa Ana College professor Charles “Bud” Little.
Little, journalism advisor at the college, will receive the Sky Dunlap Award — named for John William “Sky” Dunlap, 1912-1968, who owned and published the Globe, an independent newspaper.
“The award recognizes not only a person’s achievements in journalism, but also that person’s community involvement,” says OC Press Club President Patrice Marsters, associate editor of OC Weekly.
Former Daily Pilot Publisher Tom Johnson won the award last year.
Marsters says Little’s “longtime steering of the college newspaper, el Don,” has led to national awards and professional success for his students.
“We compete with all the major universities in the U.S., and generally we are the only paper that comes out on top,” says Little, who estimates the newspaper has won 5,000 state, local and national awards since he became chair of the journalism department in 1986, according to the El Don website. “We consistently beat the big boys.”
El Don, according to the site, was inducted into the Associated Collegiate Press Hall of Fame in 2008 after the publication received 14 National Pacemaker Awards, “considered the Pulitzer Prize of College Journalism.”
Marsters feels Little deserves the Sky Dunlap award because he’s “actively forwarding the tenants of journalism and encouraging future generations to join our ranks. Without people like Bud, journalism would cease to exist.”
The club is also feting Reiff, a Pulitzer Prize and Golden Mike Award winner and three-time Emmy nominee.
“We chose to honor Rick Reiff with a lifetime achievement award to recognize his long career in journalism — along multiple platforms,” says Marsters.
Reiff authors the popular Orange County Business Journal OC Insider column and hosts and produces “Inside OC with Rick Reiff” on PBS SoCal.
He produced and hosted the station’s “SoCal Insider with Rick Reiff,” for 10 seasons, and with Elizabeth Espinosa co-hosted “Studio SoCal” for three seasons.
“Inside OC” won the Golden Mike for Best News Public Affairs Program in Southern California, Division B, in 2011, and its successor “SoCal Insider” won the same award in 2012 and 2013.
Reiff “ … was the lead reporter on a team at the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal that won a 1987 Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the Goodyear-James Goldsmith takeover battle,” according to his bio. He also wrote for Forbes.
Reiff tells me he’s “honored and humbled to be recognized” by his colleagues in the local media, “the people who understand how important yet how fragile local journalism is in Orange County.”
He says he shares this award “with PBS SoCal, which has aired my shows, hundreds of them, for 14 years” and also with “the Orange County Business Journal, which rare among publications, has not only survived but thrived.”
This year I’m co-chairing the event with OC Press Club Treasurer Roger Bloom.
We enlisted Gary Sherwin, president of Newport Beach and Co., to lend his creative expertise to the planning. Sherwin is a Cal State Fullerton journalism grad who covered city council meetings in Brea and Yorba Linda for the old Fullerton Daily News Tribune.
“The Press Club has always been a revered institution for me,” he says. “I remember when they used to have events at the old Town and Country Hotel in Santa Ana.”
Sherwin welcomes the OC Press Awards in Newport, where the event has been held for several years.
“Having everyone come here to town again to recognize the county’s best journalism is a genuine honor, especially highlighting someone like Rick Reiff, who is a class act and knows this county so well,” he says.
Awards include traditional print media, nontraditional (advocacy journalism or specialty publication), multimedia blogs, design and graphics as well as photography.
Categories include Best News Story, Best Investigative Story, Series, Watchdog, Sports, Arts and Culture, Music/Entertainment, Food/Restaurant review, Cannabis Coverage, politics and more covering a wide spectrum.
It’s a fun night and the public, as well as Press Club members, can purchase tickets ($55 for members, $75 nonmembers, or tables of 10) at orangecountypressclub.com/home.html.
BARBARA VENEZIA is an opinion columnist writing political and social commentary since 2007. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org