It takes a lot of bravery to contribute to a student newspaper. To lay your passions on the table, to see your interests being ripped to shreds by keyboard warriors, and perhaps most significantly, to have every ‘hot take’ or personal opinion preserved for posterity on the internet. I am reminded of this fact almost weekly, as we receive emails from past contributors asking for their articles to be removed from the website. But whilst we are often more quick to acknowledge the valour of those tackling hard hitting news or sharing opinions on complex current affairs issues, we tend to overlook the courage that it takes to share something that is so close to your heart that it is almost a part of your being. I am both grateful for and awed by the openness and authenticity of our writers, and their trust in the editorial team to do justice to their stories.
But, for every article that ends up in print, another is turned away. The fact that this is a reality at a weekly student newspaper, where writers are not paid for their efforts, is equally as absurd as it is heartening. But what is most admirable, is how many of those who are turned away are willing to come back for another go. Without our contributors, Honi Soit would cease to exist. To you, we are indebted.
It’s not often acknowledged that Honi editorial teams are composed of quasi-politicians, elected alongside your SRC and NUS representatives. What appears to be a random bunch of misfits with a passion for writing is often the product of secret ballot box deals and complex (even conniving) mergers. Campaigns are centred around childish attempts to crush your opponent (politically and emotionally) rather than bolster your own appeal. Experience is flattened to superficial markers, such as word counts, article numbers and quiz scores.
By some sort of dumb luck, Bloom were able to avoid this introduction to the world of editing. As a result, we were able to swap political scheming for time to really think about what we wanted the paper to be – a place of community, criticism and creativity. Whether we succeeded in these efforts is left to the judgement of the reader, but from my perspective, I think Honi Soit has truly bloomed amid the turmoil of 2021.
Since the beginning of my university education, I have been told that one of the greatest skills that one can acquire is the capacity to read and listen generously. In journalism and politics alike, these skills are grossly underappreciated. But what sets student journalism apart from the rest, is its capacity to not only listen generously to people who care, but to report generously on issues that matter. Judith Shklar, quoted on Maxim Adams’ wonderful cover, once said, “Cruelty, like lying, repels instantly and easily because it is ugly.” I wish that the natural disposition in mainstream journalism was to be more critical and a lot less cruel. Until that time comes, I hope that student journalism can continue to bring beauty into this ugly world.