‘You can take the person out of the Boar, but you can’t take the Boar out of the person…’

Rob Parsons, Evening Standard
I was at Warwick from September 2000 to June 2003. I did a history degree, with the second year spent in the States.
I was sports editor in my third year, I had a great time. It was the ideal introduction to journalism; you can have as much involvement as you like, and you get an insight into a lot of the skills you might need in a career.
The thing about the Boar back then was that it was a weekly paper, as opposed to most student newspapers which come out every fortnight at most. You never got much of a break from it, but it felt more like working for a real newspaper. I’d quite often put together some of the sports pages while hungover from a big Saturday night, or write my column at 4am after racking my brains for several days. The fact that we came second in the 2003 Student Media Awards gives you an idea of how much effort we all put in.
I’d never considered doing anything else other than journalism. Being part of the student newspaper seemed obvious.
After graduating, I got onto a fast-track journalism course where I learned shorthand, media law, how to write a story etc. After six months searching, I got taken on as a trainee reporter at a local paper. I spent a few years working on locals before starting work for the Evening Standard last year.
Times are pretty tough for student journalists at the moment. Anyone aspiring to get into the industry needs to make themselves stand out. Get as much experience as you can, and have some ideas for contributions; there’s nothing worse than a work placement student who sits at their desk and does nothing. Be prepared for a few rejections, but if you have enough enthusiasm and passion you’ll get there. Getting involved with the Boar is a great way to show that.

Giles Edwards, BBC Research
I studied History and Politics at Warwick from 1995-98. I started off as a news writer, then news editor, then editor.
It was all great fun, but hard work. I was there just at the point when it all became computerised, and I remember many frustrating hours on Sundays waiting while computers did things they would now take seconds to do! Back then, the Boar suffered from a lack of integration into the local community. I don’t remember much consideration about what was going on in Coventry or Leamington that might affect students.
I went into journalism simply because I’m interested in how our world works. After graduation, I went to study in America for a year, and then miraculously got a job at the BBC’s Political Research Unit.
At Warwick, I most regret not having pushed for more stories about social problems (abortion, rape, poverty, mental health, alcoholism), and about how the university affects the community in which it is situated. That kind of journalism would help develop the skills any professional journalist would need, and if they are good enough also presents the opportunity to offer the stories to regional and national media, thus building your portfolio while still at the Boar.

Theo Usherwood: Press Association
I honestly and truly loved my time at the Boar. We had a great couple of years putting the Boar together and it led to some successful careers in journalism. We spent hours working on it and my social life revolved around it too. Even my favourite night out, Sugar on a Tuesday, where we sunk plastic cups of vodka and Red Bull and were generally abused by the rugby team for putting in stories about their latest misdemeanours in to Mysterons, our gossip column. My fondest memories.
I did a nine month course at Cardiff (not nearly as much fun or use as the Boar) and then went to work for the Nottingham Evening Post, where I spent three years learning the ropes as a local reporter. I then moved to the Press Association writing on everything that went on in the East Midlands, from Prince William getting his wings as a trainee pilot to the numerous murders in Nottingham. The job has also allowed me to travel all over the world, and interview some fantastic people, including Hugh Grant, Ed Miliband, and Desmond Tutu. The job is an absolute privilege. All the stories you hear about journalism offering a reporter these opportunities can be true. It’s a great career. You won’t make lots of money unless you get to the very top but you will do lots of cool stuff that other people could only dream of.
I now work for Press Association in parliament as a political reporter, covering all the political stories of the day from phone-hacking to Liam Fox’s fall from grace. I have also covered the Libya conflict, the failure of the Liberal Democrats to stop the increase in tuition fees to £9,000 and all that. Never boring.
I still have the old copies I edited and some of the pieces I wrote, and while a couple of them make me cringe, when I applied for work experience and for the journalism course, they were absolutely crucial because they showed a genuine desire to follow a career in the media.
I can’t give any student who wants to be a journalist any sounder advice than getting involved in their university newspaper or radio station. Unfortunately, 2:1 degrees from a Russell Group university are fairly standard for those competing for jobs; it’s all about what you do outside of your degree to develop your own career.

Jake Morris, Newsnight
I was at Warwick 2001-2004, studying Politics although mainly fitting it in around the Boar. I was news editor, deputy editor and online editor. Absolutely loved it. The Boar was a weekly obsession for those of us who worked on it. Warwick was as openly in favour of higher fees as any University back then, so not much has changed.
I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life regretting not giving a journalism career a shot. I got onto the Mirror’s graduate scheme based around the UK and Ireland. I worked on the Daily and the Sundays, on news, features and at Westminster, which was great. Then I joined the BBC, working for 5 Live before moving to Newsnight, where I am now. I’m a producer, either working as part journalist, part film-maker with one of the on screen reporters or working on the studio element of the programme, basically making sure Jeremy Paxman is well-briefed and ultimately trying to get him asking your questions.
To go into a career in journalism, it needs to be a passion for you. In terms of work experience, don’t get hung up about doing stuff with the nationals. It’s interesting to see how they work, but the Mirror were far more interested in the cuttings from my month and a half on my local paper than they were in my week on the Times sports desk.

Dominic Tobin, Sunday Times
I was at Warwick from 2001–2005 and studied English and French. I wrote for news, then I was a sub-editor, deputy editor and then editor. I suppose I probably spent 40 hours a week on the Boar towards the end!
In my second year Theo became editor and he was definitely a step ahead of everyone else. He knew exactly what was needed, he just had the imagination. When the bus to Leamington was attacked by people with bricks, we joined up with Stagecoach to offer a reward for information. We clamped one of Warwick Security’s vans for parking on double yellow lines, it made a great story.
I went into journalism because it was something I’d always wanted to do. There was something about it that quite appealed; I’m not sure exactly what it was. The more I found out, the more I loved it.
It’s quite influential, you find lots of interesting things, you investigate things that need to be done, which can have an impact. It’s reiterated that I was making the right choice. I did the National College of Trainee Journalists course, useful for law and shorthand which I use all the time. The most useful part was the work experience at National News press agency every Sunday, and at the end I went straight to work for them.
If you can go in, come with great stories and deliver, you’ll be fine. It’s like any job; if you work hard and do a good job, you’ll be fine. Look around at what other papers do, think investigative and try to tell people what they don’t know.
Training yourself to look that extra mile is exactly what newspapers need. Keep pushing yourselves, don’t just be content with just reporting the facts, look beyond.


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