Student Journalism at Oxford - Contributing


Student journalism at Oxford is a really big thing. And I really cannot stress that enough. There are three student papers: The Oxford Student; The Cherwell, and  The Oxford Blue as well as several magazines including Science reviews (The Oxford Scientist), Isis Magazine, Broad Street Humanities Review and several others. At some point in your time here you will come across hosts of people who have contributed to articles or held some sort of editing role.

I really didn't know how to get into student journalism in my first year, it was whispered about and I saw the newspapers in the lobby of Benet's but I wasn't sure how to get my foot in the door. It may seem obvious to some but to me I had to really ask around.

Student journalism at Oxford, as I'm sure with many other unis runs almost entirely on Facebook. Naturally, each paper has its own official Facebook page where stories and articles are shared but then there are also private contributor's groups. The Cherwell is split into several different strands such as Comment, Culture etc whereas the Oxford Student has fewer and the main one caters for all sections of the paper. It's really easy to join any of them: a quick Facebook search of 'X contributors' will produce something and then your in. Content calls are then posted in the different groups at different times but for each section there will be a call for submissions once a week. This almost always takes the form of several ideas bullet-pointed with some background information and maybe a link to another article on the same or similar subject. You then comment on the post or message the person directly asking to take up whichever commission you fancy. The editor will normally give a deadline and a word count and you're ready to get going!

After you've written your article and submitted it, one or two editors will go over it and edit it and then send it back to you for any further discussion or to check the edits are okay. You're always welcome to challenge and discuss changes because its very much a collaborative process. I generally found when writing that I pretty much accepted the editor's changes because I knew they knew more than me and were a fresh set of eyes but of course, it's each to their own. 

You can contribute as little or as much as you like for as many or as few papers and magazines on a range of topics. As well as picking up commissions you can also pitch ideas. This involves reaching out to an editor, usually an editor of the section your idea best fits into, and presenting your idea. They will then take it up and suggest a deadline and word count and you can set off writing. I've pitched a couple of ideas, mainly comment or culture pieces and have never had them turned down. I think editors really like it when someone comes to them with an idea and shows enthusiasm so always shoot your shot.

Now that's just the contributing side, getting involved on the editing team is a slightly different kettle of fish and if that's something your interested in check out my experience and advice here.



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