Milo Dennison and Anna Davidson are the Editors-In-Chief of the Oxford Student for Hilary Term 2023. I took the opportunity to interview them and ask them about their plans for the paper as well as some general questions about themselves.
MH: So first question I wanted to ask is what made you both want to be Editor-In-Chief of the OxStu?
AD: I would say that, I wanted to do it because I’ve been with the paper for a while and I really like the Oxford Student. Basically I’ve just really liked working with the Oxford Student, it’s been a real highlight of my time at University and I feel very strongly that I wanted to be someone who is proud of it and could be given the opportunity to express that its a really impressive newspaper with a lot of interesting and exciting content.
MD: I think my answer is somewhat similar. I think the OxStu has a really nice culture and that was really obvious when we had our Christmas Party or our Deputy Editor drinks, there’s a really nice team and I wanted to feel even more involved in that and I had lots of ideas of ways we can make the paper even better, foster that team dynamic even more. So I guess it was a combination of having ideas I wanted to implement and just wanting to be more involved in the OxStu.
MH: So far, what has been your most enjoyable section to work on? I know that’s going to be a difficult question.
AD: I did Profile a couple of terms ago, which I really enjoyed because it’s just exciting to talk to interesting people essentially. I also think it’s very exciting to build the paper’s connections with the outside world, so a real highlight was that I got to interview Stephen Fry, which as well making me feel super important, was just exciting to put the OxStu on that platform as well as being personally interesting.
MD: I think for me that’s a pretty easy one, it’s got to be OxYou. That was what got me involved in the OxStu in the first place, I was looking at the student newspaper which did satire and I’d actually read the ‘Sunday Roast’ before I even got to Oxford, and I always found them really enjoyable and always wanted to be involved in writing them. So it was the opportunity to write them which got me into the OxStu in the first place and I’ve just been doing stuff with OxYou ever since.
MH: What in your opinion sets the OxStu apart from the other papers and magazines of the Oxford student journalism scene?
AD: I would like to think that the OxStu isn’t that intimidating, which I think is a real advantage because I think it doesn’t actually benefit a student newspaper to be too imposing, it’s good to be like people feel they’re able to write for it for the first time. It’s exciting to have that kind of accessibility because I think it means there’s just more opinions going around and people aren’t intimidated by engaging in intellectual discussions on current events. I think there’s a problem with Oxford generally where people feel if they don’t have a background which is super intellectual that they’re opinion isn’t merited or is stupid, but I think if you create an atmosphere which is unintimidating then more people feel able to share their opinions.
MD: Building off what Anna was saying there, for me it’s that it feels like such a close-knit team which a lot of other papers don’t really have. My dirty secret is that I actually section edited Cherwell’s Business and Finance section back in the day as a naive Fresher, and while it was a great team and really interesting it just didn’t have the same close-knit team feeling that I think the OxStu does.
At this point I give my forgiveness to Milo, as not only do we all make naive mistakes in first year, but I have also written for Cherwell in the past.
MH: How is it that you both got into student journalism and what made you choose the OxStu?
AD: I actually looked for my first ever article online the other day just to remember what it was, and it was an article I wrote when I was at home during Covid at the start of the year in 2021 about the Free School Meals Policy. The best ever line I’ve written in student journalism was “Boris Johnson’s children school meal policy, all the compassion you’d expect from a man who tackles children to the ground.” I started writing in 2021 just because I had always been interested in it and then just liked the sound of getting involved in the editorial team, so I joined under Andrew Wang and Alex Foster (HT22) who were very encouraging. The OxStu really sucks you in as well, once you’re in you’re kind of a bit stuck.
MD: For me I was very fortunate at school to have the opportunity to get involved in student journalism and discover this thing I really enjoyed. When I came to Oxford I was actively looking out for opportunities to get involved, and obviously OxYou and satire was right there. I was actually quite fortunate that the Section Editor for OxYou the term before I applied was at Merton and really encouraged me to apply to that and pointed out that it was a good satire section, which got me really keen to be involved.
MH: What has been your proudest achievement so far in the OxStu?
AD: I did feel dead important when I did my Stephen Fry interview. But I would say that it made me quite proud when we did the editorial interviews for this term, like seeing all the people that we already knew from previous terms. It was a proud moment in the sense that this is a really good team and I really like being part of it and all of these people are people who admire and think are really good at their jobs, so I felt quite proud that they wanted to continue being part of the team with me and Milo as Editor-In-Chief.
MD: I think mine is a little less important than that. It was probably when we managed to get a Sunday Roast out on a day when I was very hungover from a Bop, but we still managed to get it out before midnight which was a big achievement.
MH: What changes are you hoping to make for this coming term?
AD: There’s a lot of exciting stuff to come. I would like to continue to have links with working journalists, Jason (Chau, MT22) started a lot of good stuff last term, but I’d also like to do more profiles with journalists just to keep up those connections. I’d also like to continue to emphasise OxStu accessibility, so I’m hoping to put on some kind of ‘Access to Journalism’ or ‘How to be a Student Journalist’ type of events and content for the website.
MD: I’m very keen to continue what Jasson and Dom (MT22) started and use the advisory board as much as we can, and keep pushing for some of the reforms they’ve suggested. I’m also keen that News should start to feel a bit more personal and relevant, so for example if you’ve read on Oxfess that the UNIV JCR President has been impeached, there’s nowhere to go and actually know why they’ve been impeached. So I want OxStu to be the place that people turn to and I think that Rose Henderson who has been appointed our Head of News is going to do a great job finding those stories and getting them out. So hopefully the OxStu will be the place to go for very specific news that is relevant to Oxford Students.
MH: Moving on now to some more general question, do you both hope to work in journalism once you finish at Oxford?
AD: As a third year that is a bit of a dreaded question. I think it would definitely be something that I’m interested in, I’m very interested in politics, current affairs, policy and all that good stuff. So I’d like to work in some capacity engaging with those sorts of issues, maybe as a journalist or maybe not.
MD: I’m still living in the second year instance of not quite thinking about it yet, but it’s definitely something I want to do, I just haven’t necessarily thought seriously enough about how I’m going to get there. The dream is to end up writing for Private Eye but there’s all sorts of other jobs I could do in journalism in the meantime.
MH: This is the final question now, what extra-curricular things do you do in your Oxford life outside of the OxStu?
AD: I am part of the 93% Club, so state school outreach, and I’m Welfare Officer which is not a big role but it’s something I like doing. I think the accessibility and team-building there comes in handy here as well.
MD: I’m Merton’s JCR Social Media and Publications Officer, which basically means I’m responsible for publishing what is at best a gossip magazine and at worst is a slanderous rag, that chronicles the lives of Merton students. I also do quite a bit of rowing, and despite being six foot 2 I’m also doing some coxing.
Image credit: The Oxford Student Facebook Page