Agony Journo

Student Life
PHOTO// Robert S. Donovan

Care to introduce yourself, new Agony columnist?

Journo’s the name and journalism is the game. Let me summarise my life story thus: school newsletter, OxStu, local paper, Guardian. Obviously, I’m only at the OxStu stage at the moment, but it’s just a brief interlude before I can sink my Red Bull-stained teeth into the national media.

Don’t think I’ve ever seen you around college, Agony Journo?

Probably not. I spent most of my time in the OUSU building, frantically prostituting myself to the OxStu editors in the hope of promotion. Failing that, I like to walk around public places in a conspicuous rush, Blackberry to my ear, scrolling dramatically through my notepad. I’m often found at the back of important meetings – JCR, Union, OUSU, Wadham Feminists – scribbling furiously. Also, check out conspicuously-placed cafés, like the Missing Bean on Turl Street, where I’ll be seated right next to the window, exuding journalistic energy as I sip my skinny latte.

This sounds like it takes up lots of time. What does your schedule look like?

Time is an illusion. That’s what I tell myself when it’s 4AM, I’m desperately typing up my interview with the OUSU Vegetarian Equality Rep, and I’ve drunk so much energy drink my hands and bowels are shuddering with equal ferocity. Look, it’s a lot of work, OK? I normally get up at six each day, and spend at least two hours trawling through the Internet for stories, and checking my eleven different email addresses. Then I need to find time to write three inane articles on the future of Finnish green energy, make six sycophantic calls to potential leads, beg the Guardian for work experience, and look busy in a public place. I also have a degree lying around somewhere…

Agony journo, why are student journalists so self-indulgent?

Look, mate. It’s a savage industry. It’s the sort of industry where you need to hack into phones and wantonly brand people paedophiles just to get ahead. Sure, you can do a bit of student journalism in your free time. I know people who perhaps write something every other week, and enjoy a varied social life in the meantime. But while they’re laughing and grab-assing, I’m chasing down leads, and practising my non-regional diction. Because the only way to win is to be the best. The very best. You don’t get killer scoops like ‘Lack of Welsh Representation at Regent’s Park JCR Shame’ for nothing.

I was reading some Ovid the other day when I reached an epithet so pithy I jumped for joy, and unfortunately landed bang in the middle of Mercury. Now all my clothes are drenched; any tips for a new outfit?

When dressing yourself, just remember: it’s not about doing, it’s about being seen to be doing. Think about what your apparel says about you. A tattered notepad says you’re gagging for a big scoop. A pen behind the ear suggests constant vigilance. Add in a khaki satchel covered with left-wing badges, a scratched Blackberry, torn jeans, a knitted scarf, a vest worn in all weathers, and some incoherent facial hair, and you have that slightly-unhinged look that the Guardian graduate recruitment team will love.