A wise person once said, “Self-reflection is a vice best conducted in private, or not at all.” I agree that the process of taking a look in the mirror can be nauseating, but just this once I will have to disagree with Roebuck Wright. Honi’s editors and reporters spend so much of their time up to their elbows in life’s unhappy sewage — ignorance, stupidity, power mongering. We pride in ourselves for pointing out the muck and its composition, or if we are in an optimistic mood, we will proudly present the public with something shiny or pleasant we have disentangled from the rubbish. As the year crawls to its terminus, let us climb out of the misery and see what state we are in.
First and foremost, Honi Soit is a godsend for a number of practical purposes. Creative societies are never in doubt as to the sourcing of newspaper for props, craft, painting, and papier mâché. Playing a middle-aged British guy and need to be reading something onstage? Honi is there to meet your needs. I myself, once I’ve read it cover to cover, will hand my copy over to my friends who keep rabbits. Newspaper is the bread and butter of anyone fond of making a mess, and Honi Soit is free, quality and always within reach in large quantities — unless of course the nearest stand has already been raided by bigots.
If you ask people, “What do you think of Honi Soit?”, the answers vary intensely. The puzzle section, it seems, is universally beloved. Last week, actor Jeremy Jenkins was heartbroken to find that their director had taped the crossword page to the wall while repairing a set piece. At Courtyard, I will often see two or three people bent over the crossword, pulling apart clues and spelling out words on their fingers, desperate to finish the damned thing before they have to dash. The Quiz and Sudoku are put up with very well, but rarely persevered with — a mention of the Cryptic Crossword is sure to be met with blank stares.
As for the articles themselves, that is where discrepancy begins to show. It cannot be denied that Honi is pretentious. There tends to be a quippy tone that even gets on my nerves sometimes; at the mention of Honi, there is sometimes the hint of an eyeroll. There is a hesitancy to give a strong opinion at the risk of offending others — it is well understood by the student body that anyone with the self-appointed authority to publish their opinion of something is likely to have a high estimation of their own importance.
Many find the lovey-dovey affair between Honi and SUDS to be exhausting, as well as the overwhelming saturation of StuPol material. Many are disgusted by the increasingly weakening criticism offered by reviews, a point which targets me and yet I also 100% agree with.
The choice phrases “echo-chamber” and “nepotism” among others tend to crop up. It is true that Honi Soit was the first to introduce to me the most nauseating term on the planet: BNOC, meaning “Big Name On Campus”. What’s more, it would surprise many to know that a majority of the student body have no idea who we are, and probably wouldn’t care if they knew.
Despite this, many people I spoke to who don’t write for Honi expressed a real appreciation for its coverage of current affairs. At the heart of Honi is a streak of granite that is genuinely rigorous journalist work — perhaps the connective tissue linking Honi to its radical reputation. An article of particularly striking acidity any given week can spark discussion, and Honi is good at alerting us to parts of the university’s workings that we might otherwise have been oblivious to. A lot of people, including me, who don’t read the paper religiously will devour an article written by a friend. Across the board is an appreciation of the paper’s editors that borders on disbelief. I was not urged to say this, I swear, despite the fact that I would die for my editor. Even if you don’t care for Honi, there is no denying the absurdity that is the editorial workload.
We do some good work, at the very least. Like many things at the university, Honi Soit is old as fuck, and that means that it’s associated with power and influence — despite its left-wing convictions. To many, its well-worn tropes — love letters, odes, think pieces — are a comfort, whilst to many they appear lifeless. Maybe Honi Soit can be a bit annoying — but that’s because young people are annoying. We are part of a long tradition of nit-picky, quippy people who care. We’re opinionated as much as we’re inexperienced, and for better or for worse student journalism is the overt efforts of our age group to grapple with the age we are in. I’m not ending this one on a saccharine tie-in — it’s clear that Honi Soit has got flaws as much as strengths. If I didn’t manage to catch your opinion on my rounds, please feel free to send the paper your thoughts via email [Editor’s Note: we always love letters, so email us at firstname.lastname@example.org]. We’re out for the university’s blood, but we’re a big scary institution in our own ways. I urge you, implore you, beg you — give Honi Soit a taste of its own medicine and let us know what you think of us sometime.