My involvement in Student Media began in May 2011, when I was elected as one of the Wessex Scene’s Lifestyle Editors. Well, technically it began a few months before that when I wrote a couple of articles for the website; but once the elections had been held, my part in the magazine grew. I was able to work with the team to run the online newspaper, and maintain my section along with my co-editor. I covered a few news stories for the Wessex Scene when other writers were too busy, and even won a highly commended award for Best Editor at my University Media Awards, as well as making a huge number of new friends. Then, in May 2012, I was elected as Deputy Editor, a title which I was shocked and flattered to be chosen for. I know the new team will be fantastic, and we start working together properly in September, though we are already busy communicating and producing content online throughout the summer.
The student media team at the SUSU Media Awards 2012: The Wessex Scene, The Edge, Surge Radio and SUSUtv
My time as a member of the University of Southampton’s student media team has given me so many opportunities. I have sharpened my skills as a writer outside of my degree, as well as having become a keen team member, team leader and section editor. It has also hugely improved my confidence.
But enough of the CV.
Despite my main role as Deputy Editor for the Wessex Scene, I am still involved as an occasional writer for The Edge. As the main student entertainment magazine for the University, The Edge sometimes offers the opportunity for writers to gain free tickets to events in order to review them, when they’re lucky. I myself have never done this; but I have taken advantage of my involvement in student press in other ways, with some exciting results.
Two weeks ago, on Saturday 30 June, I went to a local festival called LeeFest. I’ve been twice before, once in 2008 and again in 2010. LeeFest is a small home-made festival which originated in Lee Denny’s back garden in 2006, when he was told by his parents that he wasn’t allowed a house party while they were away. Since then, Lee has never looked back. Now it boasts a main stage alongside several other platforms for local and national musical talent, as well as a craft tent, live poetry readings, comedy, a large bar and even a VIP area. Not forgetting the giant pig, paint fights and an ice cream van. What more could you ask for over a sunny weekend in June?
It is here that we witness one of the many perks of being involved in student media. This year, after a sudden eureka moment and several emails, I secured a press pass for the festival, meaning I received free entry and access to the backstage area in return for a review of the event. I arrived on the Saturday (I was only able to go for one of the two days) with my sister Katie, who agreed to come along too. The day went well, and although it was technically work, I had a great time. I made sure I experienced as much of the festival as possible and took as many photos as I could to make sure my review was accurate and well informed.
The main stage at LeeFest 2012
My Press Pass for LeeFest 2012 – hopefully the first of many!
Once I had seen a few bands play on the main stage, I ventured backstage to interview a band called Bwani Junction. Their PR manager had contacted me prior to the festival asking if I wanted to chat to the boys, and of course my answer was yes! The interview went well, helped along by a cider to calm the nerves. I think I made a good impression on the group, despite my lack of a Dictaphone – being a novice journalist and student I cannot afford such high-tech equipment… so a pen and paper were my weapons for the day. In order to make the most of my press pass, I decided to try and get a few more interviews. I managed to talk to some fantastic people: a musician named Seye who has recently supported Paloma Faith, a band called BigKids, Dan Smith of Bastille fame, and Blaine Harrison, vocalist and musician from The Mystery Jets. The day was rather surreal for me, and a great way to start the summer.
Me and Bwani Junction; the funniest and nicest Edinburgh boys I have had the pleasure of meeting
Standard fan photo with Blaine from The Mystery Jets, proudly sporting my University of Southampton hoodie
I have never been so elated after an event in my life, and went home that night grinning from ear to ear. I have managed to write up some great interviews, and the press pass I was given really added to my festival experience. Of course, my day at LeeFest would have been brilliant without the pass. But my involvement in student media had provided me with an even more fulfilling and exciting experience. I left the event feeling on top of the world, and even more certain that I am heading in the right career direction; something that I have never felt before.
What I want to say is, student media is a doorway to many opportunities, whether you’re involved in the magazine and newspaper, radio or television. It’s not just about improving your teamwork, creativity and journalistic skills, or broadening your friendship groups and increasing your employability. Like many other activities and organisations at the University, being involved in the media department often has its perks; this time it entailed free tickets and the opportunity to mingle with the (relatively) rich and famous. As if you needed another opportunity to get involved….