On some weekends of term on the campus of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, the office of their student publication Concrete based at Union House is a scene of editing.
On some weekends of term on the campus of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, the office of their student publication Concrete based at Union House is a scene of editing. Proofreaders walk into the office with the guide of editors and work through the publication as it prepares to go to the press. In the twenty years it has been in existence, it has won student newspaper of the year (1995) from The Guardian’s Student Media Awards and was a runner up for best student newspaper in awards administered by The Independent and the National Union of Students (2001).
For Amy Adams, the publication’s current editor, the scene which encompasses Union House most weekends is where it all began, and says these proofreaders are at the heart of the production of the paper. “I signed up to the society at the Fresher’s fair in my first year,” Adams said. “I wrote a couple of reviews for the TV section, but I enjoyed the proofreading most. At the end of the year, I applied to be chief copy editor, a position I ended up sharing with one other.”
Adams became editor after it was announced that the university’s student union could no longer afford a Sabbatical editor-in-chief, and that a part time student editor position would be made in its place. Adams says that despite the small population at the UEA, Concrete still plays a vital role. “Like any newspaper, Concrete is about getting important university news to its students and keeping them well-informed about the issues around campus,” Adams said. “However, it’s also about offering them the chance to let their views and stories be heard, whether this is an opinion column, film review, or the match report of a Lacrosse game. It’s really easy for people to get involved, and we try to cover as much of that diversity as possible.”
A fortnightly publication with items ranging from music and travel to news at the university and around the world, Concrete has a total of 17 sections which also expands onto the web.
The trends towards the future of student journalism across the UK, Adams says, are similar to the trends currently taking place across journalism nationally. “It’s important to have a great website and good social media management, because that’s how we get so much of our news now – especially young people,” Adams said, who adds it’s also important to work with other societies at the university level, like TV and radio.
The case applied to a protest of the English Defence League in Norwich in November. “We were able to live tweet the march itself; write an article summarising the event for the website that was published that night, and included a video from UEA:TV interviewing protesters and capturing the atmosphere; and in the print version the next week, we published extended and updated coverage from several different angles,” Adams said. “It was great, because people had loads of ways of hearing about this one event, and it’s all about working together, and using the range of skills and materials people have to offer. There’s no need to be in competition, because so much of journalism is multimedia anyway.”
Upon the completion of her time at Concrete, Adams hopes to be a subeditor on a newspaper or magazine. For now, Adams is proud of the work at Concrete, especially considering the changes surrounding the student editor position. “I was worried that I wouldn’t have time to keep up both that and my degree, or that the paper’s quality would suffer,” Adams said. “But everyone pulled together in an incredible way. It sounds soppy, but each issue is a real team effort. We all support each other, but also push each other to do the best work that we can do. It’s a wonderful atmosphere, and the newspaper continues to look great—at least in my opinion!”
Concrete can be accessed online at http://www.concrete-online.co.uk, where students at the University of East Anglia can learn more about contributing if interested. Concrete is also on Facebook and Twitter.
Editor’s note to readers: This piece is part of a series for Kettle examining UK student publications and student journalism.