Oxford is known for its lively student press and famous journo alumni – including Evan Davis, Victoria Coren-Mitchell, & Nick Robinson. Let VERSA guide you through the ins, outs, ups, and downs of the press at Oxford.

 

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Aka VERSA’s nursery.  We were born from the crucible that is the propaganda wing of OUSU, with every Editor-in-Chief to date having served on OxStu’s staff at some point. Here’s hoping f̶u̶t̶u̶r̶e̶ ̶d̶e̶f̶e̶c̶t̶o̶r̶s̶ current Editors David Barker and Laura Whetherly can too free themselves from OUSU’s shackles. Nominally has a huge circulation, but is most often found yellowing unread in JCRs. Perhaps nobody cares about a 1st year PPEist’s insights on Israel/Palestine after all.

Why read? Because it is there. You will never be further than 25 metres from a copy of the OxStu.

Why write? If want something to send home to mum or want to write for VERSA in the future. Who knows, you might get in straight as a section editor. Oh and the name is still ‘respectable’ as far as the student press goes. CV fodder. If we’re being fair, you can actually learn some stuff too, if you really try.

Verdict: Good for using as something to shit on. In all fairness, a good/easy way into student journalism. Bankrolled by OUSU, which guarantees print and circulation numbers, you’ll deffo get published. Some of those copies are actually read too. Watch out for OUSU control though – it’s become tighter in the past year, for all the editors’ attempts.

 

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OxStu’s ugly big sister. Collectively known as CherStu. Founded in 1920 – as they never forget to remind us – Cherwell flaunts itself as Oxford’s ‘independent’ paper.

Why read? It is blissfully short and comes out on a Friday when you will probably have nothing better to do.  John Evelyn is worth it for the gossip, and occasional libel. It is also fun to steal multiple copies from your JCR, to highlight Cherwell’s unhappily low circulation count.

Why write? You can learn some skills. Well – you have to do every role in the paper. VERSA presumes that at least three terms of slaving away in their ‘office building’ (read: an attic above a solicitors on Aldates) will teach you something.

Verdict: The reputation it tries to garner as the ‘cool’ and ‘indy’ paper of Oxford doesn’t hold water, and it tends to attract those who don’t want to commit to something bigger. Dodgy links to an OUSU campaign last year didn’t do it many favours.

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Yep, it’s actually still a thing. Apparently OK at other Unis, in Oxford it’s the home of less-than-relevant ‘news’ about clubbing and articles shared from other towns. Don’t let ‘3,000,000 views a month fool you’, that’s the total of all 60+ Tab sites UK-wide.  

Why write? Regardless of quality, your work will get shared at random unis you barely knew existed. Dave in Newcastle and Kim at UCLan will provide an audience for the content. Someone has to, right?

Why read? You need an alternative to staring at a concrete wall. Or you actually care about club photos from Chester. Either way, not for the more discerning reader.

Verdict: A reputable paper at other unis. Central-control to put OUSU to shame, cross-sharing of irrelevant posts from other cities and some very dubious former staff make the Oxonian iteration a solid 2/10.  

 

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Not the terrorist organisation. This termly publication boasts illustrious former editors and interviewees such as Boris Johnson and Lucian Freud. Has since been taken over by people who think that Cellar is a cool place to go clubbing and wear exclusively vintage clothing. #Edgy

Why read? Occasionally has some interesting articles and images, and will make you look cultured and hipster once a term.

Why write? Probably the only magazine that will think that your wanky poetry is decent. You’ll probably never write a feature for them; Isis have a notoriously pretentious system of rounds of editing.

Verdict: VERSA suspects that the editors of Isis were ignored at school for their ‘literary masterpieces’. Unless you can risk your life in a warzone for arty pictures of bins or have dinner with Julian Assange, don’t bother.

Cuntry Living/No HeterOx/Skin Deep

We’re not saying these three are all the same, but they serve roughly the same purpose and ‘zine format for feminism, LGBTQIA, and race issues respectively. We’ve taken a pop at their related Facebook discussion groups in the past, but we really rate the ‘zines for their interesting & terrifyingly well-informed discussion of liberation issues.

Why read? They’re the best place to learn about liberation issues for a novice, and for the more knowledgeable they give good coverage of important debates. Plus you get the kudos of seeming at the cutting edge of social politics.

Why write? Where to go with extended thinkpieces. Radical ideas are especially welcome. You’ll likely get in with the Oxford left too, though VERSA is less sure if that’s a pro or a con…

Verdict: Provides a platform to pieces that wouldn’t fit into the regular student media. All three do a great job discussing liberation issues. A shame about some of the goings-on in their related Facebook groups.

 

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R.I.P INDUSTRY

The one place where if you were pretty enough you could get your photo printed nicely without it being in Best Dressed Clubbers or a news story. Sadly, due to no one in Oxford really caring about the latest fashion trends and living in stash or vintage clothing, Industry saw its demise in Hillary 2015. Its reincarnation in Cherwell as a double-page pull-out once a term just doesn’t cut it aesthetically as well as the glossy magazine format it once graced. There is probably a reason Vogue doesn’t print on low quality newspaper.

 

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Oxford’s most wanted student journalism”. Either genius or “an atrocity” depending on whom you believe. What can’t be denied is we get people talking. We’ve broken stories on Union elections, DavCam in the Buller, and debauchery on the Varsity ski trip.

Why read? Want bold views, breaking news and experience pieces that will make you think ‘what the fuck?!’, all whilst rejecting CherStu’s faux-broadsheet style? Read VERSA. Don’t care about another ‘enlightened’ HisPol students’ views on Putin, but actually want to hear an opinion on Oxford-related issues? Read VERSA. Bored? Read VERSA.

Why write? We provide top quality training to help you write the stories Oxford students want to hear. We make friends with each other, our meetings end in the pub, and we throw twice-termly staff parties people have dodged finals revision to attend. We will platform any view that is legal to publish and well-reasoned, and we will help you break stories nobody else dares to.

Sound good? APPLY HERE, closes end of freshers’ Week (October 10th!)

Verdict: If we don’t say so ourselves, we’re at least a solid 8.5/10. Maybe a 9.5 when drunk. If a string of national stories, setting the Oxford agenda, and monthly hits over 100,000 within a year of opening isn’t success, we don’t know what it.

We do like to poke fun at our rivals (and those we’ve left trailing behind), but Oxford’s student journo scene is something well worth getting involved in. It’s just our well-informed opinion the best way to do that is with VERSA.

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This article has 13 comments

  1. But do you even Cherwell?

  2. Isis “boasts illustrious former editors and interviewees such as Boris Johnson and Lucian Freud”. What odd things to compound. Was Boris Johnson an editor or an interviewee?

  3. CherStu is just not a thing.

  4. Whatever you may say about Cherwell and OxStu, Versa will always have more schlids Mr Hurfart!

  5. You have like 3 people involved in your publication. Goodbye and good luck with your 2:2s

  6. STAR WARSSS!

  7. I killed Industry

  8. slither slither slither

  9. Seriously how am I still in my position

  10. WHERE IS JOE MILES

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