Student journalism is a funny thing. Sometimes it can feel like a pointless exercise; stressing to meet a deadline when no-one’s going to read it anyway. Other times it can be the most rewarding feeling, seeing your work in print. Having someone come up to me and say “Hey, I read your article” can make me giddy.
If you want to be a journalist, student journalism is something you have to do. Firstly for your own benefit; it can give you a taste of what journalism is like in a safe environment. If you don’t like it, you can quit while you’re ahead before spending thousands on the NCTJ. Secondly for your application forms, whether for university courses or job applications; you need to show enthusiasm and dedication and you need to have cuttings.
The earlier you get involved the better. However from my experience it’s not always the most glamorous of hobbies and it’s something you need to stick at. In my past experience of student journalism, there’s been a few ups and downs...
This was a youth magazine I got involved with in 2005 at the tender age of 14. It was published by the local council and was basically a means of advertising to teenagers all the activities (other than drinking in the streets) that were available in our area. I was lucky enough to be on the editorial team from day one.
At the start it was awful. The council made the magazine broadsheet sized, which meant everyone rolled up their copies to use like bats to hit each other with. We once ran a competition which no-one entered. It was altogether very cringy. If you need proof, here’s the front page of the 2nd edition. If you look closely enough you’ll see a very smarmy-looking 15 year old me, holding a copy of the 1st edition (which is almost big enough for us all to hide under).
However, it did get better. And what’s amazing about student journalism is, for the first time ever, people care what you think. It amazed me then - and I’m still not used to the idea now – that people want to read what I have to say. With that strange feeling comes the fear; because whatever you’re writing, it better be good.
This is the paper I’m involved with now, which is a lot more professional. I’ve been involved a few different sections, but I tend to stick to features. This is where it got real for me. Going from writing about the joys of doing your Duke of Edinburgh Award to interviewing MPs, GlaxoSmithKline representatives and the creator of Floxx is a big step up. There are still downsides; like writing articles which never get published, or get edited beyond all recognition. But for me the anticipation of waiting for the next issue, seeing ‘Emily Davies, Head Features Reporter’ and having people interested in what I’ve written, gives me a buzz I can’t get anywhere else.
So if you get the chance to do student journalism, give it a go. It might just be something you can look back on in a few years and cringe at, or you might end up making a living out of it. I hope I'll end up doing both.