Academy student life

Elliot Mulligan, Editor-in-Chief, The Boar: Why is student journalism is important?

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The Boar is Warwick University’s official student publication and has been since 1973. At over 350 members and with an editorial and business team of 62, they are one of the largest student publications in the country. In November 2018, The Boar won the inaugural Today Programme Student Publication of the Year award and have also won the SPA Best Publication in the Midlands award for the past two years.

Daniel Ruben and Elliot Mulligan have been Co-Editors-in-Chief since March 2018. Both are third year History students, and in their spare time enjoy watching the unmitigated success of both Fulham FC and Leeds United, spending hours slaving away in the Boar office, and enjoying a sweet pint of purple in the Dirty Duck. Purple is Warwick’s official university drink but don’t be under any pretence, it’s really just snakebite and black.

Kettle Mag caught up with Elliot to chat about being a key part of this year’s editorial team.

What is involved in running a student newspaper like The Boar?

The role of Editor-in-Chief covers a lot, from making the physical paper once every fortnight with the senior team and monitoring daily uploads on our website, to holding editorial board meetings every Wednesday.

Why did you get into student journalism?

I’ve genuinely wanted to be a journalist since I was six years old – so what better way to get involved than with student journalism! It’s fun, fast-paced, and you get to meet loads of great people.

Student magazine

What is the most challenging part of the role?

Balancing the paper and my degree is definitely the most challenging part of the role of Editor-in-Chief. Sometimes I forget I’m actually studying for a degree (sorry Mum and Dad) and transitioning from a seminar on 16th century Japanese trade to an editorial board meeting can at times be tricky.

Why do you think student journalism is important?

While it may sound slightly over the top, one of the main roles of journalism is to hold power to account, and student journalism is no different. It is important that we report on what is happening at the University, whether it be positive or negative, so students are aware of what is happening on campus. Equally, we should be aware that not everyone knows or cares about the intricacies of higher education funding and pensions, so it is crucial this is balanced by easily accessible and entertaining journalism.

Give us an insight into The Boar as a publication – what sort of material does it publish?

We publish everything from news to lifestyle, sport to sci-tech. In fact, we actually have 14 different sections in total!

If you had to choose three main skills you’ve developed from being editor of The Boar, what would these be?

Time management is definitely one of them. As I mentioned earlier, balancing a paper, a degree, and a social life is very tricky.  I also feel my leadership qualities have improved, as leading an exec of 60+ and a society of over 350 members forces you to sometimes make tough decisions. However, this has also enhanced my ability to work as part of a team. As Editor-in-Chief, it is extremely important to listen to the rest of your senior team and your section editors, as making a newspaper is a collective effort.

What would you say to someone concerned about the competitiveness of breaking into the journalism industry?

Everyone knows that journalism is an extremely competitive industry. I’m currently in the middle of sending off various graduate scheme applications, and the one thing I consistently mention is the things I’ve done with The Boar. Having talked to journalists at national newspapers, they are genuinely impressed with the work done by student journalists. So, if you are concerned about the industry’s competitiveness– get involved in student journalism.

How can students use their time at university to build an impressive CV for journalism roles?

Please don’t just join your student newspaper so you can bulk out your CV. However, if you do want to go into a career in journalism, the most important thing is to write as much as possible! Keep pitching ideas to the relevant people at your university newspaper. Go to writers’ meetings. Write a review of the gig you went to last week, or the café you went to this morning. And, if a position opens up on the exec, run for it! If you really want to get involved in journalism, you have to be ready to throw yourself at any and every opportunity that comes your way.

Which journalist or publication inspires you the most and what have you learned from them?

This is a tricky one, as whatever publication I say will annoy somebody somewhere on campus. So, I’ll say a particular journalist, John Sweeney. John gave a talk to members of The Boar and other students at Warwick University in January, and it was fascinating to hear his stories. From travelling undercover in North Korea to his time in a jail in Zimbabwe, John’s desire to pursue news is unparalleled. Moreover, he still has time to come down from London on a Monday night to talk to a group of students (and have a drink or two at the pub afterwards). Having a sense of adventure, and the will to challenge authority, is probably the most valuable lessons I learnt.

What do you hope to do after graduating?

I’m hoping to go into political journalism, so fingers crossed my applications are successful!

How is the relationship between your paper and your uni/union?

The Boar is financially independent from our SU, however we maintain a good relationship with them and the University. Student officers are always available for a chat, and somehow manage to put up with us pestering them. Similarly, we are often in contact with the University’s press office, who are always available for comment.

What influence has writing for The Boar had on your future career aspirations?

Well, writing for the best student publication in the country has certainly helped my career aspirations. It is often the case that journalists on a regional and national level started out by writing for their student publication, and this has certainly helped me make connections in the world of journalism.