Daisy Outram and Tara Earley are our Editors-in-Chief for Hilary Term 2024. They are both second-years, with Daisy studying Law at St Hugh’s and Tara taking History and Politics at Hertford. This profile discusses their experiences in student journalism, their opinions on the field, and their plans for the paper this term.
Audrey Davidson-Houston: Congratulations on your promotions, and all the best for the paper for the new term. What inspired you to apply for the role of Editor-in-Chief?
Tara Earley: I wanted to be Editor-in-Chief firstly because I’ve had such a great experience at the paper. I’ve worked at OxStu for a year now, writing for Comment, Features, Food & Drink, and recently directing our podcast. It’s been a complete highlight of my university experience, so being EiC in that sense is selfish as I want to spend as much time working on the paper as possible! But it’s also been a really inclusive environment, and a place where I’ve made a lot of friends and gained a lot of confidence. So, I think providing a welcoming space like that for new editors, particularly freshers (as I was when I joined), is important.
Daisy Outram: Being at the paper has been such a good outlet to go beyond college and subject in terms of meeting people, but when I first applied I definitely didn’t expect to get to this point. I was really inspired by working in the news team when I joined Trinity last year. Covering things like the Kathleen Stock controversy and the coronation was really engaging. The opportunity to not only reflect what’s going on in Oxford but directly interact with the student community is such a big part of it, so having a chance to lead it now is such a pleasure.
ADH: What would you say are your main influences in terms of journalism? Was there a particular book or a particular journalist that you found very inspiring?
DO: I think it’s a bit cliche, but I always loved watching Louis Theroux documentaries. I’ve always enjoyed a very genuine approach to journalism. It doesn’t have to be something inaccessible, but just by talking to people and learning their stories, you can put together such interesting narratives about different parts of the world. Other than that, keeping up with various outlets and discussing news with people. Whether that’s directly reporting current affairs or forming your own opinions through your writing, I always enjoy having those sorts of discussions with fellow students and having OxStu as an outlet for that is great.
TE: It’s perhaps mainstream but I’ve always grown up watching BBC News, especially with Clive Myrie. His work in Ukraine was inspirational in how hearing from underrepresented voices, particularly in times of crisis, can uplift the lives of so many. I immerse myself in publications I find interesting too, starting in lockdown with zines and poetry competitions. Journalism is an outlet for people to be creative, but it also has an impact on the student population. We hear from people all the time who read our stories and feel part of an ‘Oxford community’ so it’s very nice in that respect.
ADH: Continuing on that theme, what’s been the most rewarding part of your time at the paper?
TE: Starting the podcast and seeing it succeed was a lovely project to work on. We’re currently transcribing episodes at the moment, which is a long process, but looking back on all those hours of content that people have worked hard on and can feel proud of is a great achievement. Also, partnering with the Beehive news platform was amazing, because the whole team’s hard work is being showcased in the same leagues as massive publications like the Guardian.
DO: Mine is split into two separate parts. A big highlight for me is quite simply the team. It’s always such an enjoyable experience having everyone’s ideas together in that one room. Then, more personally, I found talking to people around the Stock controversy really interesting. I was proud of my piece on the SU LGBTQ+ response, given the legal research I did on the impact of the new Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act and getting that piece on the front page was hugely rewarding.
ADH: So, you’ve looked at what was most rewarding in the past. Now what are you looking forward to? What’s your vision, looking into the term ahead?
DO: One of Tara and I’s big aims for the term is accessibility. We are looking to get as many people involved with the paper as possible, especially now that freshers have got through Michaelmas Term. In this respect, we are running workshops open to the entire student body so that people, who might see journalism as something too difficult to do or challenging to balance with studies, can see that if you just put yourself out there and get involved, people are always willing to help. We are also focusing more on social media, hoping to promote engagement on X and explore TikTok.
TE: I completely agree, accessibility and diversity are key for us. We’re also attending the Hilary Freshers’ Fair with the Student Union, which will be a good opportunity to meet anyone who hasn’t had the chance to approach us yet and bring some new people and stories into the paper.
ADH: You’ve mentioned, and I certainly do agree with the importance of diversification in journalism beyond just print. And since last term we have launched our rapidly developing podcast. What are your plans for continuing that? What do you think the role of social media and the digital world is within student journalism?
TE: We’re looking to integrate the podcast more within Oxford. We’ve spoken to lots of our own editors thus far, and it’s been brilliant to hear about their motivations for getting involved in student journalism. But this term, we’re bringing on a wider range of guests, including academics and student societies. We’re reviewing our social media strategies, as so much of our attention does come online. It’ll be nice to have some new dialogue on and content for TikTok and X, we’ve got our Rordan Gamsay account set up! It’s a good way to show the interactive side of journalism; it doesn’t have to be serious news reporting all the time.
DO: We recently changed our social media templates which has done a great job making the way that we present articles online more sleek and professional, helping increase engagement. I really enjoyed appearing on the podcast last term to talk about editing the news section and helping others get involved in that as well.
ADH: The paper has been around for more than 30 years since 1991 and has had some great successes, and some big changes. As the new Editors-in-Chief, what do you want to keep and what do you want to change?
DO: I think editing the paper this term is going to be largely about continuity because OxStu does have such a great legacy and a place in the student world in Oxford. We will be keeping up a high standard of our bimonthly print editions as well as our online uploads. In terms of moving forwards, expanding our online presence to reach more people and get more people involved is really the main thing.
TE: Yeah, I completely agree with that. Internally, we’re streamlining a lot of our own editing processes to make working at the paper even more enjoyable, but, like Daisy said, continuity is important. There is such a rapid turnover of editors-in-chief every term, so we’re keeping what’s working and right now basically everything is working. We have a great spread of sections; my particular favourites are Pink and Identity and we can’t wait to continue going from strength to strength.
ADH: So, there’s a quite a few major student publication outlets and whether joke or not, there is some competition between all of them. Going forward into 2024, what’s your perspective on the competition between them?
DO: I would say that as much as there’s some rivalry between the different student publications, it makes room for healthy competition and a lot of collaboration. We’ve got the Media Soc speaker event with journalist Rozina Breen coming up this term in collaboration with the Oxford Blue and Cherwell. Also, often when reporting on developing news stories where people get different pieces of information, you can almost bounce back and forth to further the narrative. I think we’re all able to carve out different niches and contribute effectively to journalism.
TE: I think it’s great to see what other publications can bring to the table. Every team and every editorial vision is going to have different aims and different strengths to it. But I think collaboration is so important, it’s something we’re keen to cultivate with the purpose of showing that student journalism is a very wide landscape, going beyond both our publication and our university.
ADH: What advice do you have for those who want to get into the student journalism scene?
TE: I would encourage people to try and set any qualms aside, and just go for it. We are looking at ways that pitchers can get in touch with us more easily, and turn the editing process into more of a conversation. It can be the case of having lots of ideas, and just no platform to channel them into – that’s what we’re here for. We’re a fantastic team of very friendly, very welcoming individuals who have a great time working together. And anything you want to write about, we can find a place for, and anything you want to write about will have an audience.
DO: I can say that before I joined OxStu, I felt much less settled in Oxford than I do now. In joining the paper, you gain such a sense of community and belonging not just within the people you work with here, but in understanding the world around you. Talking to the people relevant to an article’s stories and narratives is a great way to really understand the city and university. Often, you’re already having these conversations with your friends. Talk to someone at the paper about it and get your stories published, because I think people often don’t realise what they have to contribute to student journalism.
ADH: Finally, outside of the paper, what are your interests and hobbies?
DO: In the free time I have outside a Law degree and the paper, I like making the most of what Oxford has to offer in terms of music events and some great student societies. I’m also involved in the SU Women’s Campaign to work on feminist issues at the university, as well as being co-president of my college’s Law Society.
TE: I’m involved in OUDS, currently co-producing ‘Rosaline and Juliet’ this term, which is very exciting. It’s a nice break from the degree work to be involved in something fun where you just know everyone is having a great time. I also want to make the most of my time in Oxford to enjoy what the city has to offer in terms of open lectures, local fairs, pubs, and society events.