By The Viewpoints Editorial Board
Viewpoints is wrapping up the 2020-2021 academic year with a total of 27 regional, state and national awards.
By the end of the month, we will have published 14 issues this year that provided pivotal COVID-19 coverage for the Riverside Community College District and its surrounding communities.
But many may be unaware that our journalism specialist Matthew Schoenmann has been the anchor behind the awards, the momentum we built and the public service we performed in a time of uncertainty for our program, which has been functioning without a full-time adviser since the retirement of Allan Lovelace last year.
Schoenmann is a part-time classified staff member who stepped up to full-time adviser duties during the unknown. He and part-time adviser Angela Burrell ensured Viewpoints’ continued excellence during the pandemic.
Having observed Schoenmann’s work more closely than anyone in Riverside City College academia, we believe making his part-time specialist position full-time is in the best interest of everyone involved in our program.
With a new full-time adviser, a new editor-in-chief and students who have never experienced a physical newsroom all converging on campus in the fall, our specialist will be one of the few who understands the dynamics of our team and what a successful transition will require.
We have made this known to Gregory Anderson, RCC president, and Kathleen Sell, English and Media Studies Department chair. They told us our program has the department’s and administration’s full support.
The recommendation to make the journalism specialist a full-time position has been made in our program review for several years. However, Anderson said these decisions come down to competing priorities.
Granted, every program has its needs and desires. But ours is not “every program.”
Since the campus closure, we have informed our community about pandemic-related developments and have been at the forefront of local social and political movements. Riverside stands as a local news desert with dwindling journalistic resources, but Viewpoints continues to provide a crucial service. We have gladly put our health at risk because we are dedicated to our community’s well-being.
But Anderson also said permanent classified staff positions are some of the most difficult to fund because they do not allow for backing out — the decision would entail that this position will be necessary not just in the near future, but for years to come.
And yes, we believe our nearly 100-year-old program will need this position long after our current specialist retires. We believe this is in the best interest of the college.
RCC already holds the Inland Empire’s premiere college journalism program and people are taking notice.
Students have come to Viewpoints from surrounding areas for a journalism education. And with our staff planning significant shifts into modern journalism practices that will ensure our program’s continued growth, RCC has the opportunity to attract countless more aspiring journalists in the coming years.
Viewpoints intends to not only be the go-to news source for RCCD students as we attempt a return to normalcy, but also for community members looking for coverage of the streets of Riverside.
All this ambition would not be here were it not for Schoenmann’s guidance.
We are proud to serve RCC and will continue to do so with the new headquarters the college has provided us.
But our aim is to maximize the use of our new newsroom.
Our staff is interested in delving into the digital age with the various forms of multimedia that the professional realm has transitioned into and that Schoenmann excels in.
Effective use of new technology will require effective coaching. While the full-time adviser’s time may be taken up by behind-the-scenes duties, Schoenmann, the man who is setting up our new newsroom, will be the one sitting next to students on a daily basis, helping them hone their crafts.
Without the support of a full-time journalism specialist, the program may experience a slip as the new adviser and students adjust to each other — which is something we are striving to avoid.
Schoenmann is not simply a classified staff member. He is a mentor, coach and like a father figure to many of us. Past and present staff members can attest that his guidance has been pivotal to student’s growth during and after their time with Viewpoints.
We believe what we are asking for is reasonable and would add to the prestige of our college. Viewpoints, our specialist and RCC are all deserving of more investment in journalism, which we will continue to push toward for as long as we have to.