Credit: (source: viewpointsonline.org)

S. E. Williams

Message from the editor:

The IE Voice and Black Voice News is proud to feature this report in support of emerging journalists in our community. 

Riverside City College’s  student-run newspaper, Viewpoints, released a three-episode podcast on On July 1st titled Fentanyl Empire: The Inland Empire’s Latest Drug Crisis.

The investigative report, created in partnership with the California Humanities Emerging Journalist Fellowship Program, explores how the drug enters the region, reveals the impact it has on those who consume it and discusses solutions the community could implement to address and help mitigate the growing problem.

Commenting about the opportunities available to the student publication through participation in the fellowship program, Matt Schoenmann, journalism specialist at Riverside City College  noted,  “The fellowship has helped with some additional funding for our program, provided mentorship and support, and allowed for reporting outside of usual Viewpoints coverage.” 

The  number of fentanyl-related deaths in the Inland Empire was 25 in 2017, and  ballooned to over 400 in 2021 (source: istock.com)

Although this year’s project was conceived by the students according to Schoenmann, as a lifelong resident of the Inland Empire he knows how tragic the drug crisis has been here for generations. “I am very proud of their reporting,” he stressed.

Viewpoints journalists Daniel Hernandez, Tim Nacey, William L.G. Stephens and Jennipher Vasquez teamed up over the course of the spring semester to showcase, and add inquiry and context to this pressing issue impacting their community. 

The podcast exposes the realities of how fentanyl has generated a string of untimely deaths, caused overdoses and ultimately provoked Inland Empire officials to take on this crisis especially in light of how quickly is accelerated in just five years. For example, the number of fentanyl-related deaths was 25 in 2017, but that number ballooned to over 400 in 2021 – an increase of 1600%. 

The Viewpoints podcast Fentanyl Empire: The Inland Empire’s Latest Drug Crisis is available on all of the following platforms: Anchor, Apple, Spotify or Viewpointsonline.org.This is the second year RCC’s Viewpoints staff has been selected to participate in the statewide fellowship program that trains and prepares student journalists to conduct in-depth reporting on issues of importance to campuses and communities. The first project The Fight For California’s Great Lake, won a Journalism Association of Community Colleges statewide award for best news writing.

S.E. Williams

Stephanie Williams is executive editor of the IE Voice and Black Voice News. A longtime champion for civil rights and social justice in all its forms, she is also an advocate for government transparency and committed to ferreting out and exposing government corruption. Over the years Stephanie has reported for other publications in the inland region and Los Angeles and received awards from the California News Publishers Association for her investigative reporting and Ethnic Media Services for her weekly column, Keeping it Real. She also served as a Health Journalism Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism. Contact Stephanie with tips, comments. or concerns at myopinion@ievoice.com.