by Craig Wright
Dear 2015 Craig
Let’s just get the confusion out the way early on. It’s me, Craig, only three years down the line. In about 30 seconds time, the editor of Brig, Lucy McLellan, is about to tell you that you’re one of the new sports editors for the paper, so let me tell you how things are going to pan out over the next couple of years. It’ll hopefully put your mind at ease, because I remember that you were a little bit nervous about the whole thing which, looking back on it now, you had absolutely no need to be.
The first thing you’re going to need to know is this. Almost as soon as you’re elected, you’re going to be taken outside with your new co-editor, Jack Mallon, by both the outgoing deputy editor, Rob Adair, and his successor, Jacky Boland. These are the first words that Rob – or anyone – will say to you after your election, other than the usual congratulations:
“The section is f*****. Fix it.”
You’re going to be a little bit taken aback by this statement. However, bear it in mind – it’s going to mean a lot more to you when you get to this point in your university career, because you’re going to remember this exchange and smile. We’re getting ahead of ourselves, though.
So, over the next few weeks, you get a crash course in how to be an editor. You sit in the media office as Jacky and Andrew Henderson teach you how to edit (and yes, they will be responsible for teaching you how to put circular photos into your section – apologise to no-one for this, everyone will come around eventually to the realisation that they look great), you fire a few questions in Lucy’s direction, and you have a bit of a chat with Jack about any plans you have for the section. Then everyone breaks up for the summer, as people tend to do at university.
Fast forward to September, and you’re ready and raring to go. You get the first paper out the way, you walk the hundreds of steps around Sports Bazaar, introducing yourself to anyone and everyone on a sports team stall that’ll listen, and you’ll start acquainting yourself with the bane of your life – the BUCS website. On the whole, though, you’re going to love your first year on committee. Yes, there’s going to be a few ups and downs, but you’ll meet and get to know some of the best people you’ll meet at university, and it’s the perfect introduction to student journalism.
You’ll even score a hat-trick in the media societies football match. Heady days indeed.
There are two major developments in the section, however, in your first year. The first comes right at the start, when you’re continuing your hunt for writers. You don’t get many in that first year – you spend half the year pestering your flat-mates, Andrews Henderson and Baxter, to write for you, but two new members come to the fore. A young, Hibs-supporting American football fan, who (hilariously, in retrospect) is a bit timid in introducing himself to you as Harry McArthur in the opening meeting of the year, and a photographer by the name of Hannah McNicol, who introduces herself to you by asking “why the f*** haven’t Brig been using my photos?”
First introductions will be a fun time for you, let’s just say that.
These two will be crucial in shaping the section into what it is today, though, and not just because they’ll go on to be your second group of co-editors. Harry’s knowledge of the Clansmen gives you a solid, reliable amount of quality content – even if his first report will be nearly 3,000 words long – whilst Hannah’s photos will add a new dimension in your first year as you redesign the look of the section.
The second major development will come right at the end of the year, when Lucy gives you the admin details for the dormant Brig Sport page on Facebook. This will become important, once you figure out how pages work on Facebook (social media, at this point, is not your forte – stop trying to figure out how to get into the Twitter account way earlier than you do, while we’re on this point), as it’ll open up a lot of doors for you. You will spend half the summer working out the best way to use the page, though. Just as a forewarning.
It’s all change on committee for your second year in the role. There’s a new editor who comes in by the name of Dan Vevers, amongst a host of new committee members – your new co-editors, Messrs McArthur and McNicol, included. However, arguably the biggest change comes in the form of your relationship with the sports union. You’ve worked with Jess Morris, the Sports President, for the previous year, but this is the year you become fully aware of the #BleedGreen banner. You’ll work with the new Sports Communications Officer, Kelsey Blemings, and everything, almost without you noticing, starts to come together.
Then, on a soaking wet October evening, you’ll come up with an idea that will legitimately make you wonder if a lightbulb is floating around your head. You’ll think of doing a weekly broadcast on Facebook Live recapping the week’s university sporting results, something that, in theory, could actually be extremely simple – a rarity in terms of ideas you come up with. You run it by Dan, your co-editors, Henderson, Baxter, a few other people, and then finally the sports union – all of whom are fully supportive of the idea, something you’re unbelievably grateful for – and come up with the name ‘Brig Bleeds Green’.
So, almost unbelievably, you’ll go ahead with the idea and broadcast from the Brig Sport page. The first episode arrives, and, despite your nerves that you try not to show, it all goes off without a hitch, to the delight of everyone involved.
Then you realise that Facebook Live does not film in landscape…
Despite the first, sideways, venture, Bleeds Green becomes a staple of the section (we even retroactively fix the first episode, as can be seen above). Together with the ongoing success of the print edition and some fantastic website pieces, the section goes from strength to strength.
Just in time for you to leave for Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.
Yes, study abroad will come calling, and you’ll love every minute of it. You’ll get involved with the student newspaper – The Peak – over there, meet some brilliant people, and have an absolute blast. You keep in touch with Brig though, and then something happens that you don’t expect.
You’ll absent-mindedly be following the announcement of the SPA Awards nominations whilst in a café at SFU, writing an essay, as you do. Then you’ll see the announcement for Best Sports Coverage, and right at the bottom, there you are.
Now, a lot of emotions are going to go through your head, so let me give you three things to bear in mind.
Number one – the table in front of you is screwed into the ground. Be thankful for this, because if it wasn’t, you’d probably send both your laptop and your half-drunk coffee flying.
Number two – the table in front of you is screwed into the ground. Make sure to move your chair backwards before half-leaping into the air, because that table is going to hurt your thighs otherwise…
Number three – be mindful of how loudly you celebrate…
You’ll end up watching the live stream in a hotel in Vancouver just before you return home. Spoiler – you don’t win, but the pride of being nominated is something you’ll never forget.
The bakery down the street also helps you get through any disappointment you may feel.
So, to this year, and what a year it’s been.
Your Canadian sojourn over, you’ll return to Stirling and to a paper that’s got a whole host of new faces for you to wrap your head around. New faces that will, incredibly quickly, become your friends. Committee members elected in your absence, such as Anne Stoop, Irina Nakon, Chris Bond and Emma Simper, are joined by a plethora of new writers throughout the year, all of whom bring something unique to the table.
You’re also going to be introduced to someone who will make one serious impact on the section. An ever-smiling Masters student from North Carolina who will come into the fold and astound you in two ways. The first is with the quality of her work, and the sheer work ethic that she possesses. She very quickly becomes one of your favourite people based on both that, and her infectious personality.
The second is over just how much ice cream one person can put away in a week. You thought you enjoyed ice cream until you met Shannon Scovel.
If your second year on committee was the one where things started to fall into place, then this year is the one where the section truly flexes its muscles. Harry, Shannon, Chris and yourself put together four outstanding print editions, featuring new writers galore and covering a number of angles on student sport. You’ll work alongside new Sports President Rebecca Blair, and will consolidate the section’s place amongst the university’s sporting scene.
The print editions are complimented by a series of top quality online pieces, including Shannon showing the full extent of her research capabilities by putting together a #WeekOfWomen article that has praise coming from all quarters, and Harry continuing his excellent Clansmen coverage. You also find yourself attending a wide and varied selection of events attracting national press, including the pre-Olympic send-off for the Great Britain curling team, the launch of the Special Olympics anniversary games and the Queen’s Baton Relay.
Above all, however, a landmark moment for the section and for the paper. For the first time in your time at university, all three media societies come together to work on one project and succeed. The first ever LGBT+ and Sport Panel is a major success, and shows just how far the section has come in three years.
All of this work will see a second SPA nomination for Best Sports Coverage come the way of the section, as well as a first ever nomination for an individual piece for Shannon’s #WeekOfWomen article. Again, the section leaves empty-handed, but as one of only three sections in the country to be nominated in back-to-back years, you leave with your head held high.
Besides, more awards come the way of the paper and the section over your final year. You’ll win Best Journalist at the inaugural SPA Regional Conference – a fact you still can’t quite believe – and lifetime achievement at the university’s Clubs and Societies Ball. The LGBT+ and Sport Panel will take home Best Event, whilst the paper itself takes home the SPA Regional Conference award for Best Publication.
Yet, perhaps above all, it’s the recognition from the university’s sports teams that provides the biggest marker of the section’s progress. Teams from all corners of the sports union make a point of coming to you with stories and to ask you to cover events, as the sports union media team becomes a well-oiled machine under the #BleedGreen banner. It’s why, when a contentious question is asked at Alternative Hustings over “why #BleedGreen has largely been a failure”, you make a point of forcefully correcting the error of the questioner’s ways, because of two reasons – you’re not happy having the work of your section bad-mouthed like that, but more because you remember what Rob says to you right back at the beginning.
The section isn’t just fixed. It’s flying.
Which is why, on the day that you (and I) officially leave the committee on Scotland’s Best Publication, it seems fitting to both look back and look forward. Be proud of how far the section has come. Be excited for what is to come. Know that the section – and the paper – is in good hands going forward.
Most of all though, know that you’re going to have an absolute blast in your time with the media societies. Working with the sports union will give you a number of opportunities. Be sure to take every one of them, and enjoy the ride.