Just got off the phone with a local political writer, and we got to talking about Irvine Valley College.
"At IVC, student life--it's kind of dead, isn't it?" she said.It wasn't always so. About ten years ago, some exciting stuff was going on, including protest marches, vigils, film series, and the bold hoistage of Ragu Spaghetti Sauce jars.
"Well, it is a bit sleepy, I guess," I responded.
"Yeah, when I go to Saddleback College, stuff seems to be going on. There are student hangouts. There's a student paper. Stuff doesn't happen much at IVC."
We had a student newspaper then, the Voice. Below is a typical issue. It's headlines: "SOCCCD trustee race heats up!" "Faculty members vote no confidence in IVC's president!" It editorialized about Prop 39. It had four pages of lively sports coverage.
The Voice was put out by the Journalism program, which was directed by a full-time instructor and supported by staff.
For a while, it was a great little paper.
Do you know who broke the "Frogue denies the Holocaust" story? It wasn't the OC Register. Nope. It was student reporter Ked Francis of the IVC Voice (see Is trustee Steven Frogue a Holocaust denier?). (Ked is now a professional reporter.)
The Voice won awards: the ACP National Newspaper General Excellence Award 1996; the newspaper of the Year Award, 1997, 1998; the JACC General Excellence Award, 1999, 2000.
Voice reporters did some great muckraking stories about IVC administration. There were lots of positive stories, too. The paper was way cool, and students seemed interested in what was going on. They hung out. They talked. They littered. (Well, you can't have everything.)
Eventually, then-President Raghu Mathur got his mits all over the journalism program and he made sure that the Voice and other student publications cranked out fluff and propaganda that promoted Raghu's interests and the interests of his minions. It was appalling.
The journalism program soon died an ignominious death.
Well, now, there's talk of reviving journalism at IVC. The School of Humanities and Languages, which last housed Journalism, has stepped up to the plate, and plans are afoot to write new courses, some of which might be taught next Fall. (Mass Media is a likely candidate.)
But KNOW THIS. A journalism program (or simply the offering of journalism courses) and a student newspaper are NOT the same thing. It takes lots of money to put out a paper. Printing alone is very expensive, but then there's the purchase of computers, software, and other equipment. Plus you need to secure a special space to house all this stuff. The old journalism space--it always kinda reminded me of the movie His Girl Friday--has now been taken over by IVC's Honors Program, and it seems unlikely that Honors will be moved anywhere any time soon.
If you've been listening to the Board, the Chancellor, and the college presidents lately, then you know that budget-tightening and enrollment management are the focus right now. Even the hiring of new full-time faculty seems to be on hold, or at least it's slowed down to nearly nothing.
Money is tight.
One possible source of funds is student government, which, at IVC, has a budget of around $400,000 a year. There's no reason why student government can't pay for this stuff.
I'll ask 'em. Don't hold your breath.
Still, with this latest development re journalism, we're moving in a positive direction. We'll build up the program as best we can, and then, maybe, if we can find our way to some money and support (e.g., eventually hiring a full-time journalism instructor), the students will have a newspaper again.
Let's hope the new paper, when it arrives--if it arrives--will be as good as the old Voice during its brief heyday.
ONE MORE THING: Here's a positive factoid. As we reported two months ago (The good news and the bad news), new legislation now protects college newspapers from the meddling and censorship of the Raghu P. Mathurs of the world. Yippee!
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