Starting a Student Newspaper

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I was meant to be writing an essay when I came up with the idea to set up a newspaper. I was sitting in front of my laptop trying to will words onto my screen. Nothing was coming, my mind wasn’t in it. It was wandering. I had been reading the Guardian. I really appreciate the impact of its journalism and global engagement and how it expands my world and awareness of all the goings on in life around me. I looked into whether Aberystwyth had a student newspaper, to see if I could get involved, and was shocked to find out it didn’t. I picked up a piece of paper and jotted down various things I would want in a student newspaper if I were to start one.  I went as far as noting the first 10 stories the newspaper would feature, which have since been lost and forgotten. But a seed was planted - a passion project not quite germinated. You’ll be glad to know I did finish my essay, though! 

Setting up:

I chatted about it with friends and family. When something is at the forefront of my mind, I will talk about it to anyone who will listen - I can’t help it, it’s an overspill of enthusiasm. A while later I was in Ystwyth Books - a wonderful bookshop in Aberystwyth with books for wallpaper - a few weeks after handing that particular essay in. There I met Jeffrey, a friendly, passionate, American, who I instantly recognised from my English Lit course. The conversation moved onto my idea of starting a newspaper. Jeff took to the idea. We soon established that the best course of action would be to start the newspaper as a University Society. This required us to find at least ten members. Jeff and I then spent the next few days inviting people to join our embryonic newspaper. The people we invited then invited their friends until our membership list exceeded what we needed to start a society. 

Each person we spoke to seemed really enthusiastic about the idea. For some it provided an opportunity to explore a career path they had been thinking about previously. For instance, I spoke to a fellow classmate, Kit, who has aspirations to become an editor. Similarly with Conor, a good friend of mine, who is now our Vice President and Chief Editor. We decided that our best course of action in terms of a newspaper would be to publish online exclusively. Saving printing costs as a uni student was a peach. People then offered their skills to help develop the website. Ruby - another friendly and incredibly helpful American, offered to design the logo. Another of my fellow classmates, Faith, offered to construct the website during the summer holidays. Both her and her dad had previous experience creating websites. This generosity of time and skill really pushed us on.   

I contacted the university to set up a society and after several months of back and forth we established ourselves as a Volunteer Project* instead, in association with the Students Union. The first time we met up as a newspaper team was in a meeting room in the university library. I prepared a presentation detailing my plans and vision for the newspaper. My main point was how awesome it would be that we could leave something behind in Aberystwyth that we had established. The enthusiasm from everyone took me aback, and still takes me aback now. We quickly established roles and I’m happy to say that Jeff - the friendly, passionate, American - is now one of the editors for the newspaper. I moved further to speak to people afterwards about the sort of things they would want to write about. I thought it important to explore what the team members were passionate about and encourage them to write about these things. I felt that a newspaper written from a place of passion would be more compelling. Alice (see her article after) spoke passionately about the impact of learning differences in education and how often they can hold students back. This is where I see the value of journalism for Aber students and this is what I hope our newspaper will provide for our readership. Passionate writers, focusing on things that they are passionate about. The team met again before the summer holidays in the Scholars Bar for a social get together. We played Jenga and had a laugh. I felt proud that the seed of an idea that had been planted in a moment of distraction alone in my room, had come so far and I was surrounded by people equally as passionate as I am.     

Final thoughts:

We have a fantastic team. I’m grateful to them and the Students Union who helped get us here. Aberystwyth University has a student newspaper - The Mouth of the Ystwyth. I’m proud to be its first President.