An editor has to be heartless, but thoughtful too


Written for Cherwell.

I was prompted to write this comment piece upon learning that one Shark Tales participant is facing the sack, after comments published by Cherwell. It raises questions about if and when student journalists should protect students’ reputations.

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Independent: Tyrone or not Tyrone: Katie Hopkins called out by Oxford student for snobbery

Last month Cherwell’s Matthew Broomfield interviewed Katie Hopkins, in which the former Apprentice star suggested that Oxford tutors should choose a ‘Cecil’ over a ‘Tyrone’. This prompted one Oxford student called Tyrone (there are no Cecils) to write an open letter to Hopkins, which went semi-viral.

I wrote up the dispute for The Independent.

http://www.independent.co.uk/student/news/tyrone-or-not-tyrone-katie-hopkins-called-out-by-oxford-student-for-snobbery-8757339.html

On Monday morning, Tyrone took Hopkins to task live on Sky News. Against Hopkins – whose bombast I can imagine is overwhelming – he did a stirling job. See the video here.

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Another OUCA story…

It’s of course unfair of me to label this just ‘Another OUCA story…’ when that’s very much not the headline that appears.

Here’s the text online. There was substance to warrant a story: an OUCA officer had been unfairly disciplined and, on a separate note, we had a witness to attest to a bit of sexism at Port and Policy, the society’s weekly port-sodden debating fixture. There was not substance though to warrant the Watergate-esque ‘Revealed: The OUCA files’ headline. It over-promised sensation to the reader and was a bit tabloid, which isn’t Cherwell’s style. So I do have regrets about the way that story was framed.

ouca front page

Margaret Thatcher’s Death: Oxford reacts

I had just returned to Oxford for the start of Trinity term, a few days before in fact in order to do some groundwork setting up the new Cherwell.

After unpacking my stuff I was showing Bob, our super-friendly gardener who drove me down, around the Oxford Union. We were looking at the framed photographs – the one the Union covets most including  the Queen and Ronald Reagan – outside the Union bar.

I bumped into James Price, a chap in the year above who I know a little, who was reading something on his phone – looking, if he’ll forgive me for saying, a little feverish. Thatcher had just died.

It was pleasant – I won’t be so hyperbolic as to say ‘a privilege’ – to cover with Jon Epstein, a fantastically eccentric American abroad, Thatcher’s death from an Oxford University point of view. This was, after all, the place in which she first encountered the Establishment that, little more than three decades later, she would uproot and dominate.

I gave Bob a slightly rushed tour of the Union. We had time to look at some of the older committee photos, which were conspicuously absent of women. Despite being President of OUCA in 1946, Thatcher was barred from the Union by virtue of her gender. That finally changed in 1963.

I’m really proud of the feature we ran in the paper two weeks later. It was put together by Cherwell-ites Rosie, Lara and Helena with graphical assistance from Xin and Anna, then deputy editors. Unfortunately the Cherwell website doesn’t allow the sort of design tools that we’re able to employ in print, but here’s a photo of it here.

We tracked the changing role and experience of female undergraduates at Oxford since – and including – the time when Thatcher was at Somerville. For balance we included a comment piece that attacked the notion that Thatcher improved the position of women in society.

thatcher feature