There’s often more to student media than meets the eye. In a recent talk I gave at the University of Birmingham, students were mostly disappointed they couldn’t get a foot in the student editing door.
Countless times I have read and been told: “Everybody writes for the paper. Unless you edit the thing, it’s just not going to be enough to stand out in this competitive industry.”
So, you’ve been writing for the paper during your university years. You’ve tried countless times to secure yourself a coveted place in front of a computer, slaving away through people’s incorrect grammar and poor punctuation in the stuffy, cramped and mysterious haven that is the university newspaper office.
But what if you can’t get your foot in the editing door? Well, all is not lost in the world of student media. There are plenty of opportunities to make for yourself, and plenty of opportunities that will arise… you just have to take them.
If you have an inventive and original idea, this is a great way to get involved with something slightly different. Even if you’re not into music, maybe your interests lie in film, politics, philosophy, news, fashion, or you’re particularly opinionated about life in general. As long as you can find a creative way to portray your ideas, then you’re likely to get the opportunity to express them over the airwaves.
On my second year of radio, I proposed the idea of an entirely unsigned show, dedicated to featuring new talent, especially in the Birmingham area. I’ve networked my way through countless bands and artists, producers at radio stations, managers of record labels, and promoters of bands. It has improved my confidence, as well as significantly aiding my research and networking abilities.
Having started a brand new society, LUMSoc (Live and Unsigned Music) this year, I realised the opportunity to add another notch to my CV, whilst writing about my specialist subject.
As well as being involved in the society as secretary, I became the PR and Press Officer. This primarily involves producing, writing, and editing a monthly newsletter on the subject of all things unsigned. As well as providing another outlet for my writing, I’m developing my editorial skills, and attempting to get my head around InDesign.
If you have a specialist subject, contact people and offer your services. I doubt if any society wouldn’t want another benefit for its members.
If you write for the university paper already, ensure that you get yourself on the news and features mailing lists, they appear to circulate the most emails from outside publications and other opportunities.
I, as a Music and Arts and Culture girl, realised how much I was missing out on. The Erudition Group, which currently consists of the online publications Erudition and Intuition (soon to include Expedition) recruit students primarily from Bristol and Birmingham universities. A brief and friendly interview later, and you’re contributing articles of 500 words or more every month.
The calibre of writing is high, and as the articles are typically longer than those of the university paper, it ensures that you up your game! I expressed an interest in travel writing after my recent charity cycle across the Himalayas, and consequently was approached to write and edit for a new publication launching in September, Expedition.
Make sure your interests are known, email or contact as many people and opportunities that you can get your hands on, and get writing.
It has been said countless times before, but you need to make and take any opportunity that comes your way, even if at first it doesn’t appear to be directly related to your ultimate goal!
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After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look