[dropcap]I[/dropcap] believe I really got the balance right at Warwick. For three glorious years, I toiled at the coalface of student journalism; the passage of time marked out by new editions, editorial shakeups and brawls with the Students’ Union. My essays and seminars tucked themselves neatly into the physical and mental recesses left alone by the sprawling, needy behemoth that was the Boar.
Working for the Boar, as comment editor, deputy editor, and finally as ‘El Capitan’ – a nebulous hotchpotch of a role that was equal parts archivist, social sec and Godfather- required the devotion of more time, money and attention than any other society might reasonably expect to demand. Caring for the beloved rag had all the trappings of parenthood. After three
years looking after the paper you would graduate and fly off to London, leaving the Boar in the care of a new set of stewards who would give it a grotesque Ally Sheedy makeover, and plunge it a further £5,000 into debt before finding their sea legs half way through term two.
It is now more than 40 years since the Boar’s first edition hit campus, and I am glad to have been a part of its history. I had the good luck to be thrown into the deep end early on. I was hired in 2007 as deputy comment editor by George Eaton, then comment editor at the Boar; today political editor of the New Statesman (a walking advert for the rewards of student journalismif ever there was one). George stepped down after a few weeks and I took up the reins. It was a steep learningcurve. I’d never heard of Adobe InDesign before,
and I perpetrated some real aesthetic travesties.
On several occasions I was summoned to the office at midnight on a Friday by our Production Editor, Simon Fuchs, to fix my mess of a section before it went off to print. The contrast with my second year was stark, having become, as Fuchs described it, “part of the furniture.” The autumn term of 2008 was a golden age: the section grew to 7 pages, and finally looked as good as it read. Nonsense cultural studies think-pieces about Facebook were curtailed to one-per-issue, and our commissioning meetings frequently took over the whole of
the Union North lounge. We also managed to cultivate a meaningless rivalry with the News section, and got t-shirts made.
During my three years at the Boar, my average weekly commitment was around 15-20 hours. I consider that to be time well spent not focused on my degree – even in my final year, when Nigel Thrift and Richard Lambert were lining their pockets with my tuition fees for a scant four hours of academic contact a week.
The reason is simple. If, like me, you did an arts degree, then that top line of your CV is really just another passport or driver’s license: want to board a plane? Go to the pub? Get a job? The gatekeepers all flick their eyes down for an instant, give a nod of the head, and in you go. But the degree – even a nice shiny one without a ‘2’ in front of the ‘1′ – doesn’t get you the job, just as a driver’s license doesn’t pay for the beer.
If my degree got my job applications read, it was the Boar that got me the job I have today. In the summer of 2010 I started taking books down from my shelf to find out which publishers were London-based. John Holloway’s Crack Capitalism caught my eye. Pluto Press were an independent, radical publishers who seemed right up my street. I emailed over my CV – full of references to my published articles and design work from the Boar – and landed an internship by return of email. I moved to London. When the internship ended, it turned into a paid marketing assistant position.
After a brief spell at Aurum Press in 2012 I returned to Pluto, where I have been ever since. My job relies on the foundations I built working at the Boar – I design all our advertising, catalogues and flyers. I even do book covers and photography for Pluto as a freelancer as well. None of this would have been possible without the Boar, and I know the same is true for many of my friends and former colleagues who are now professional journalists, editors and web designers.
So join. Get involved, because it isn’t a distraction from the important stuff. It has done more for me than my degree ever could, and it was a hell of a ride while it lasted.