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Writing for The Cherwell or The Oxford Student

Ok, if I only do one extra-curricular thing at Oxford, this has to be it. At the moment I'm very interested in a career in journalism and am pointing myself that way. I really, really want to write for one of these two newspapers and I was wondering if anyone here does or knows how to help me with these two questions:

1. What makes the papers different/one better than the other apart from their political leanings?
2. How do I get involved?

I'm quite lucky because I already have quite a bit of experience in journalism for someone of my age and hope my portfolio (which I still have to make...) will be impressive! I've been writing a weekly column for a local newspaper here for well over a year now (about 65 columns published), won the school prize for contribution to our school magazine for organising the art work and submitting a feature, some articles and a poem!, got an interview/smallish feature published in a local newspaper about a fear of flying course (long story behind that one, but it was on page 3 so thought it worked out well), got almost a whole page in the same paper I do the column for with a big article on Poland including four black-and-white photographs as well, won best Press Officer in the regional finals of the Bar National Mock Trial Competition 2004 etc. etc.
So... what's the best way to contact the papers? Should I email them before I arrive in Oxford? Will they interview me and expect to see all of the above in a portfolio? And excuse this question if it seems naive, but do you get paid for writing for them? I don't mind at all if you dont though! (I need the money, but that sort of experience is priceless to me)
Reply 1
Well both the papers will probably be at the frshers fair. Otherwise there will be details in the first paper published. You can join different teams as well (features, news, sport etc).

Most people don't have any experience when they start so don't worry too much about a portfolio etc.

The general perception of the 2 papers is that the cherwell is more 'tabloidy' than the oxstu, but this seems to be mainly based on the fact that the cherwell has fit college of the week and that evelyn gossip column thing. but most people pick up and read both and I don't really think there's any difference between them (but I'm not and have never been a journo so i probably don't understand...).
The quality of each tends to vary from term to term, depending on the editorial staff. OxStu is generally seen as more left-wing (since its OUSU's paper) whilst Cherwell is more traditional. I get the feeling that the journos have no real allegiance to one or the other - just whichever paper happens to let them get their pens wet.
Reply 3
it's vair easy to get involved. just go to the meetings and volunteer to write stuff. plus they'll both have massive tables at the freshers fair so you can sign up to your heart's content. and i'm no place to make an objective assertion about which is better. as for getting paid... are you having a laugh?
Reply 4
yeah both papers will have stands at freshers' fair where you can sign up so you don't need to contact them before you arrive. They'll both have freshers' drinks sometime in either 0th or 1st week, where you can chat to the section editors and get on the mailing lists for whichever one you fancy. For the Oxstu, the paper produced by the student union, the news meetings are on a Sunday lunchtime, just go along to the office and they'll give you a choice of stories that need researching and writing by the next day. You can also get involved with the music section (meetings on tuesday eve at the turf), features, reviews of film & theatre and sport. I'm afraid I don't know much about the Cherwell but their website and freshers' fair stand will tell you more.
Reply 5
Ah thanks, that's very helpful! I'll make sure to visit their stands at the Fair.

And lol, no, not having a laugh - but it's ALWAYS worth asking that question :wink:
Reply 6
IIRC Megsy on TSR writes for The Cherwell, so I suppose you could PM her if you really wanted more information. :smile: She's the Merton JCR Pres, by the way.
Reply 7
Someone asked this in Oxford Gossip... they reckoned that - and this is just quoting so dont eat me - both went up and down in cycles, but at the moment OxStu were better for news and generally had a more chilled out staff. Cherwell do stronger arts and features, but tend to be a bit more highbrow/obscure/pretentious, and are more traditional. But they do have fit college and Evelyn which is a draw. But people contested all these so fiercely that they sound much of a muchness.