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STUDENT PRESS Free As A Bird

WA’s student magazines
WA’s student magazines

Want to find your voice and hone you writing skills? Student press can be an important part of campus life. ALEX GRIFFIN reports on his experiences.

If you’re staring down the barrel of a tertiary education and seeing nothing but half a decade of $400 textbooks and midnight exam slogs in the library, allow me to reassure you; there’s a lot more to campus life than keeping tabs on the price of Red Bull at the Ref. 

One path to getting out of university with a degree and your sanity is your friendly student magazine, which provides an eternal and slightly grimy refuge from the unreality of assignment deadlines in a creative, inclusive and encouraging space.

I was lucky enough to co-edit the UWA student magazine, Pelican, and besides being a fantastic opportunity to develop administrative, editorial, organisational and sass-talking skills, it connected me with a world of new, strange and amazing people and experiences.

Pelican was a hub of intelligent, stimulating and engaging debate, full of unique people who were all pulling towards a common purpose; producing a magazine that was hopefully so good it wouldn’t just be our mums who read it. Truly, working on articles, illustrations and design with deadlines hanging over your hungover heads is on-the-job journalism learning you can’t beat, and learning to pitch, critically analyse pieces of writing and independently develop content is stuff that’ll serve you well wherever you roam.

Whenever I pitch writing to magazines now, it’s always with the friendly, cringing memory of the first time I wrote to a Pelican editor in mind. Even if your heart isn’t set on a long life of producing Buzzfeed listicles – as the future of journalism may seem like – there’s little more satisfying than seeing your own work in black and white, surrounded by the ideas of your peers. You become a better, richer person by exposing yourself to people who disagree with you and challenge your own ideas, and the parties are great. Promise.

In Perth, it’s not just Pelican that flies the student press freak flag high; Grok at Curtin has a long tradition of playing it weird, Metior combines opinion pieces with excellent visual spreads, and ECU’s GSM is a bulwark of inclusive strangeness. With the people you meet, the free movie tickets you snaffle and the opening nights you crash at the sight of the phrase ‘wine and cheese’, you never know where student media can take you. I know student press contributors who have gone on to write episodes of Neighbours, work for the ABC, write for just about every newspaper in the country and run for Parliament. Heck, a Pelicano wrote We Are Australian.

Even if student media just stacks up the ‘misc.’ section of your resume, it’s a joyous thing to reach out to. At uni, and especially in the real world, there aren’t a lot of places that’ll hug you back for turning up, being yourself and letting the world know what you think. Without wanting to sing the Saddle Club theme song at you, student media is one of them.

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