This week, to celebrate Epigram’s 300th issue, we put together a celebratory supplement. We contacted old Editors to write pieces about their experiences on the publication, and I also wrote my own. Epigram has dominated my time at Bristol, and I wouldn’t wish it any other way.
27 years and 300 issues later, Epigram is still a thriving student newspaper. Indeed, our efforts were rewarded earlier this month when we were highly commended in both the ‘Best Publication’ and ‘Best Use of Digital Media’ categories at the Student Publication Awards.
In the inaugural Epigram editorial, James Landale set the paper’s sights high, identifying three main aims: ‘to interest, inform, amuse and stimulate the student body’; ‘provide a forum for their own views to be expressed’; and ‘act as a watchdog on the Union and University hierarchy.’ I think it is safe to say that throughout Epigram’s 27 years, these principles have been more than achieved and continue to underpin what we produce today.
But reading past Editor’s accounts of their time on the paper shows it’s not just about the stories we break, the interviews we conduct or the opinions we print; as clichéd as it sounds, Epigram is a community.
Producing a high-quality, engaging newspaper and website is what brings us together, but the dedication and enthusiasm of a united team is what makes the publication so successful.
— sarah (@sneweyy) April 22, 2016
Putting together this issue has, inevitably, made me think about my own Epigram ‘journey.’ In all honestly it’s been a little emotional; I can relate to the nostalgic memories of every past Editor, and can’t believe that soon, my time on the paper will be a fond memory rather than everyday reality.
I’ve always wanted to be a journalist so, as an eager-eyed first year, I headed off to find the Epigram freshers’ fair stall. Three weeks later I wrote my first piece; a hugely exciting 300 word story about NUS student carers. I laugh now about how nervous I was to submit it.
Soon after, I became Deputy News Editor, before taking on the mantle of News Editor in my second year. I was lucky to work with some incredibly interesting and committed people during these 18 months and we covered a huge range of stories, including Sir Eric Thomas’ foreign expenses; freshers forced to share single rooms in bunkbeds; and Donvervans coming under threat from the University.
‘I’m incredibly proud to have been part of such a strong editorial team; our success this year has been a collective effort’
The highlight, however, had to be going to the Bristol West general election count; it was a long night – we were there until 6.30am and were fuelled solely by caffeine and sugar – but I loved being at the centre of events as they happened.
Somehow, last May I was entrusted with the entire paper when I became Editor. It was 12pm and I was in a dorm room in central Bangkok when I got the call – I’ve never been so simultaneously scared and excited about taking on a role before. I’m not entirely sure that I realised what I’d got myself in for; I had a long line of very big shoes to fill and it hasn’t all been plain sailing.
Indeed, in true Epigram style, the computers have let us down on several occasions – the worst being last November, when the system crashed and we lost the entire paper just two days before the print deadline.
Somehow, after countless cups of coffee and power naps in the media suite, we pulled it off; the response from the editorial team was incredible and the most stressful week of my year has become a very fond memory. Just goes to show the benefits of hindsight.
‘Epigram is a unique society, it’s a community of interesting, fun, slightly mad people’
Over the course of the year, Epigram have covered a huge range of stories; from the Colston street fire, to student attitudes about the EU, to drug use – and that’s just in News. I’m incredibly proud to have been part of such a strong editorial team; our success this year has been a collective effort, which I have been given far too much credit for.
We started the year with a few changes; we added a Food section, created an Instagram account, and redesigned e2. Media is constantly evolving and we have to keep up – both with the changing preferences of our readers and new technology.
We mustn’t be afraid of change; online is increasingly dominating our world and if Epigram doesn’t respond to that, we will become outdated.
That said, I don’t think the newspaper will disappear any time soon and I don’t think it should. The paper has been central to our history and even if we break time sensitive stories via a different forum, hard copies of Epigram will continue to have a place.
There’s nothing better than seeing your name in print, but there are also few things that beat sitting down with a cup of tea reading an in depth feature in a newspaper. Epigram is, and will continue to, adapt to a changing world while retaining our integrity and traditions.
Epigram is a unique society, it’s a community of interesting, fun, slightly mad people who have become some of my closest friends. I honestly can’t imagine my university life without it – what would I do with all my spare time? (there’s a thought…)