Editorial #1: Who cares about student journalism anyway?

News

Well, it’s been quite the year so far. We all know why, so we’re not going to bore you with a recap. What we can do is tell you, Oxford’s finest, what who are and what we do, and then we’re going to hope you like the sound of it.

The Oxford Student first appeared in 1985 as the SU’s bi-termly ‘campaignist magazine’, in the same academic year that Boris Johnson became president of the Oxford Union. Since being refounded in 1991, we’ve existed as a 32-page broadsheet, delivered to JCRs on Fridays to be read by over 15,000 students every week.

Last term’s move to online teaching meant that for the first time in almost three decades, we existed in an online-only format. The OxStu won’t have a print run this term either – but that doesn’t mean we’re out of the picture. We have a team of nearly a hundred editors, illustrators, columnists, reporters and broadcasters, and we’re looking to grow (freshers – watch out for our application form next week). We’ll be releasing a digital broadsheet and a newsletter every Friday and we want to print a magazine at the end of term. Kate Dawson, the SU’s new Chief Executive, believes just as strongly as we do in the future of the paper in its physical form – and far from being a ‘campaignist magazine’, we have a constitution that grants us editorial independence.

Oxford is a unique place to study for a degree, and it’s a special place to explore journalism for the first time in too. Few other universities can boast three strong news outlets. The Oxford Blue has just won an SPA award for Best New Publication, and Cherwell has been around for a century, making it one of the oldest student papers in the country. Anyone at Oxford can write for any of us; you don’t need to be a member of our staff, know any of our editors personally, or have any prior experience.

No matter which paper you pick – though, obviously, the OxStu should be your first call – student journalism has never been more valuable. Oxford-based media has been keeping the student community together when most of us have been much more than two meters apart. We make sure that you’re up to date with what’s happening across the University and around the city, provide a platform for your opinions on everything ranging from pubs to politics, and entertain you with satire columns and celebrity interviews. The OxStu is particularly proud to elevate minority voices in our Pink (LGBTQ+) and Identity (BAME) sections, and represent people whose views are rarely heard in mainstream publications.

Oxford’s student papers also allow us to hold the University to account for the decisions that it makes – we can publicise the University’s coronavirus regulations to help keep students and the local community safe, and we can make ourselves heard when new college policies impact us unfairly. Michaelmas is going to be a strange, complicated, turbulent term, and in a time where print media in the real world is dying out, we need as many people from as diverse a set of backgrounds as possible to put their thoughts forward with conviction, and to investigate hard issues at the heart of our community.

As the American writer John Hersey once said, journalism allows its readers to witness history. It’s a running joke that only student journalists read student journalism, but how we write about and remember this term matters. So – why don’t you get involved?

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