What have I done this term?
The Christmas issue went as planned, with the 12 extra pages not proving too much of a hindrance on deadline day. The issue was received well across campus, as it featured a Christmas pullout with extra contributions from each section, a festive photoshoot in Jesmond Dene House, and an extra page in the Puzzles section, along with further puzzles in the Sport and Music sections. Distribution didn’t go entirely to plan as staff absences led to undistributed issues, however these were gradually redistributed by myself through the end of December and most of January.
Student Publication Association
During Term 1, I started the process of joining the Student Publication Association. Having received no application confirmation, nor any communication indicating that I’d been successful in this application, I set about contacting the SPA to check where the process was up to. Upon receiving no reply, I checked the website and was surprised to find that The Courier has appeared on the SPA’s list of registered publications. Therefore, I set about contacting the SPA about the conference in April, but having not received a reply, I contacted the hosts (Gair Rhydd, Cardiff) directly. Now being in contact with the hosts, I was able to establish the dates, timetable and purpose of the conference, and aim to enter awards if possible.
As well as this, I made a concerted effort to reach out to other student publications around the country. As a result of tens of emails, I have established links with Warwick’s The Boar, Birmingham’s Redbrick, Manchester’s Mancunion, Exeter’s Exépose, as well as a number of others. We now send each other our publications when they are released, and have opportunities to collaborate in the future.
Over summer, I was contacted by printers in Dundee and Teesside as they proposed alternatives to our current printer. I chased up these two options during January to look into cutting expenditure and emissions on printing and delivery. The current printers, Print and Digital Associates in Derby, provided a more competitive quote, and DC Thomson & Co based up in Dundee provided a similar figure. Trinity Mirror based in Teesside provided a considerably cheaper quote for the current circulation of 3000 on the same paper of 48.8gsm, which was a significant reduction from the weekly figure that was being charged in Term 1. Having taken into account the results of the segmentation research and trend of the industry, I agreed with the new printers to settle on cutting circulation down by 500 to 2500, which works out at a weekly cost of around two thirds of what was being charge last semester.
Editorial changes and issues
Going into the winter break, there were a handful of issues that needed addressing among the editorial team. Firstly, Sport Editor Mark Sleightholm was massively overworked during Term 1, so two extra Sport editors were appointed after an interview process. Lastly, one of the News editors has left to go on a semester abroad in Australia, who the News team have since replaced.
Restarting the paper
The first Writers’ Meeting of the term was on Wednesday 31st January in the same time and place as last term, with a strong turnout for the first meeting back. I attended the fantastically-run Refreshers’ Fair down in Venue the following Tuesday, where there was limited interest, but still acquired approximately 20 sign-ups.
Due to the busy nature of the week, the paper was completed late on Friday night for print on Saturday afternoon. The new, and admittedly more complicated, process of sending the paper off for print was successful and it was delivered on Monday morning. The paper was received well, considering the contentious nature of the content on front page from Council the preceding Thursday. Distribution was also successful, though I did have to chip in with a few paper delivery runs myself to pick up the slack.
Since then, three more papers have been produced, including two more eight-page pullouts. The annual Stan Calvert issue was all completed on the Sunday as usual, with the new Sport editors being thrust in the deep end. The elections pullout was put together the following week, again testing the team, but the paper was sent off late Friday night.
Newcastle Student Radio celebrated its twentieth anniversary on the week of the 5th February, where they raised £225 for Radio Lollipop Newcastle during a 20-hour show. There were other features throughout the week, including 20 hour-long shows, each focusing on a year of NSR’s existence. The week culminated in a student media anniversary social, focusing on the achievements of each branch of student media, which was well-attended. The initial NSR meeting of Term 2 took place, with the schedule being decided a fortnight later. New heads of sport and news aided in the live coverage that has been a staple this term.
Live coverage – Stan Calvert
NSR were a key component in the live coverage of an American Football game between Newcastle Raiders and Northumbria Mustangs, the first 2018 Stan Calvert fixture. There was a live broadcast on NSR, as well as a commentator cam on YouTube, a Facebook Live stream on The Courier’s Facebook page and live updates on the Courier Sport Twitter accounts. The stream was viewed by over 600 people, and provided a good basis for coverage later in the month.
As a part of the continuing Stan Calvert coverage, The Courier and NSR collaborated to stream volleyball, dressage, water polo, swimming, basketball, korfball, and netball on both Newcastle Student Radio and The Courier’s Facebook page.
Live coverage – Elections
For the first time in recent history, student media independently hosted NUSU Elections debates, broadcasted live on Newcastle Student Radio and on The Courier’s Facebook page. The debate series consisted of seven debates across four days, with all candidates for contested positions being invited to participate. Out of the 25 candidates standing in those elections, 20 were present, with moderators being sourced from The Courier, NSR and incumbent Sabbatical Officers. All of the debates are now available on Mixcloud, on the NSR Events page, with interviews with candidates running for uncontested positions to be broadcast during Elections Week.
NUTV intended to get involved with the Stan Calvert and Elections coverage, but were ultimately unable to provide coverage of the event due to equipment issues. Ava Forbes collaborated with The Courier’s Mark Sleightholm to produce footage of, and interviews with, the korfball players. Since the turn of the year, six Coffee House Sessions videos have been uploaded onto YouTube, as well as one episode of T00nVision, and videos for the student media anniversary were produced. Coffee House Sessions, led by Laura Purvis and Meg Smith, has been a hugely successful collaboration between NUTV and NSR this year, with content being regularly produced throughout the year.
Media Awards invites to former editors went out in early January, with further invites to be sent out before Easter. Having the awards night on a Friday this year should hopefully result in more attendees than previous years; from those attendees, certain people will be asked to speak on the night.
Macs and software
NUSU’s very own Graham Hattam pulled has pulled some serious strings to acquire a hefty number of PCs with the latest version of InDesign that could potentially replace the Macs in the office. Currently, I’m unsure on the timescale of both the PCs and the knocking through of the wall in the office, but I’m hoping that I’ll be able to oversee those changes under my tenure.
What has been my biggest achievement?
Our live coverage has been a real point of personal pride for me over this last term. Being able to provide comprehensive coverage of both Stan Calvert and Elections Debates is a bit of a first for student media, and with a lot of help from NSR Deputy Station Manager Harry Parsons, we’ve managed to successfully produce and broadcast a significant amount of content.
What could you have improved on?
I would have liked to incorporate NUTV more into the live coverage we provided over the last term. NSR and The Courier are closer than they’ve ever been in terms of collaboration, but I still think there’s some progress to be made with NUTV. The issues have been mostly in terms of equipment, but also resources and communication, so there’s room for improvement there. Hopefully by the end of next term, we’ll have made some progress towards a more collaborative future for all three branches of student media.
What do you plan to do next term?
I’m turning my attention to The Courier’s website after Easter, and planning to introduce a new design to the site. I’ve been working with Online Editor Jared Moore already to pick out some options, so we’ll try to implement that after the last issue of this term.
In terms of others plans, I will work towards producing a handover for my successor, as well as working with them to appoint the editorial team for next year. I’m in the process of planning the Media Awards, and will make a significant push for further nominations in the coming weeks.
Other than that, I’ll do my best to continue producing a top quality newspaper with top quality content, both in print and online.