Erika Ritchie with the “Orange County Register,” has won an Honorable Mention for the 32nd annual Gerald R. Ford Journalism Prize for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense. The award recognizes journalists whose high standards for accuracy and substance help foster a better public understanding of National Defense.

This year, the award will be presented by Michael Ford, son of the late President Gerald R. Ford and Chairman of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, at the Foundation’s Annual Dinner on Monday, June 3, 2019, at The Capitol Hill Club in Washington, D.C.

Foundation Chairman Mike Ford (L) and Trustee Carla A. Hills (R) present Erika Ritchie an Honorable Mention for the 32nd annual Gerald R. Ford Journalism Prize for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense

When announcing their decision to award Erika Ritchie the Honorable Mention for Gerald R. Ford Journalism Prize for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense in 2018, the judges issued the following statement:

“The selection committee is pleased to honor Erika Ritchie of the Orange County Register, as the recipient of the Gerald R. Ford Journalism Prize Honorable Mention for Distinguished Reporting on National Defence in 2018. Ms. Ritchie’s submission represents the kind of local, hard-nosed reporting that results from the development of trusted relationships with the military personnel in your community. Her work is both thorough and presented with brevity, allowing the reader to engage regardless of their familiarity with the national security enterprise. Her work is distinguished by putting a local face to broad issues facing the defense community, such as women in military combat jobs, the increasing number of fatalities from military training accidents and the government’s response to the trend, and the need to reintegrate and train military personnel for jobs in the civilian workforce following service. It was clear from her coverage of the posthumous award of a Silver Star to a Marine Lieutenant killed during an ambush in Vietnam that Ms. Ritchie can elicit detailed accounts from her sources that produce a visual story on the printed page. We hope that this recognition will encourage her to continue this type of defense reporting of importance to her community and the nation in understanding our military and their families.”

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation sponsors the Gerald R. Ford Journalism Prizes for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency and Distinguished Reporting on National Defense to recognize and encourage thoughtful, insightful, and enterprising work by journalists covering the presidency and national defense. The Foundation is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan corporation whose programs are supported entirely by contributions and bequests in an effort to honor President Ford’s sustained commitment to public service.

This year’s honorable mention:
Erika Ritchie: Erika Ritchie is a nationally-awarded journalist for the Orange County Register and 10 other Southern California News Group regional papers with a combined circulation of 500,000 and online readership exceeding 1.5 million. For more than a decade, her beat has covered the Marine Corps, the Navy and military issues. She focuses on Southern California and West Coast bases and stations, home to more than 66,000 active-duty Marines and Sailors and their families. The area includes Marine Corps Installations West, home to Camp Pendleton and four other bases and stations in the southwestern U.S. Commanders here are responsible for installations, training, and infrastructure to enable troops to be ready for amphibious, air and ground warfare. Erika has done sit-downs with four-star generals, Pentagon officials, Wounded Warriors and everyday Marines. She reports on deployments, combat care, emerging technology, and veteran affairs. Erika has witnessed military training from the sea aboard a battleship, air from an MV-22 Osprey and land including international war games and San Clemente Island’s ordnance ranges. Her writing is passionate about telling human stories of conflict, struggle, and joy. Spending formative years in Berlin, Germany, Erika developed an understanding of the role the U.S. military plays globally. From waking up hearing U.S. Army soldiers running on the cobblestone streets of West Berlin to watching American and Allied troops participate in annual Allied Forces Day Parades and later seeing the fall of the Berlin Wall, Erika became aware of the importance of a strong military and its critical role and impact worldwide. Those early experiences are the foundation of her continued interest in the military abroad and at home. She studied Theater Arts, World History and German Literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara and is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach with a double major in Journalism and Theater Arts. She grew up bilingual in German and is conversational in French. Erika started her journalism career at the Los Angeles Times. Erika was the recipient of the Oliver P. Smith Award in 2018 from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. Erika’s work often appears on front pages across Southern California News Group’s print publications.

For more information about the annual prize or previous winners contact: Joe Calvaruso,
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, 303 Pearl Street NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504-5353,
(616) 254-0397, or visit our website at

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