Michaelmas Term 2023 Report 

Veda, our secretary, reflects on a successful term and shares exciting plans for our upcoming 20th-anniversary celebration in this first edition of our termly report.

Dear all,

As our society approaches its 20th anniversary, we are, as ever, thinking about the importance of journalism. However, in an attempt to keep up with the times, we’re expanding our definition of media. The work of media is the work of political and cultural history – this term, we’ve been thinking about that history in new ways. 

One of our focuses has been international reporting. It was a pleasure to welcome Luke Harding, foreign correspondent at The Guardian, for an evening of discussion about reporting on conflict and his recent work documenting the Russian war in Ukraine. Two panel events further opened up the conversation around disinformation and propaganda narratives. The lively conversation and debate, featuring speakers including Cindy Yu, China Reporter at The Spectator and host of the podcast ‘Chinese Whispers’, and Nina Kuryata, Ukraine editor for Tortoise media, made for memorable and most enjoyable evenings.

To think about the media in new ways, however, is to think beyond our traditional focus on solely print and broadcast journalism, to the converging worlds of fashion, music and film. This term we heard Alexandra Shulman CBE, the longest serving editor in chief of British Vogue from 1992-2017, speak on her rise through the ranks of one of Britain’s most iconic magazines. She offered her nuanced opinions on the treatment of models within the fashion industry and the differences between style in the UK and US. Our interview with Mike Williams, editor of Sight and Sound, was a particular highlight. Mike offered fascinating insights into the ways in which the media landscape and the place of print magazines have changed during his career, the place of film criticism in this changing landscape, and the future of film journalism itself. 

In terms of social events in Michaelmas, our inaugural Spotlight Social was a huge success! This saw student publications come together in Week 2 to advertise to Freshers, accompanied by some jazzy music, free drinks and conversation. Our committee was rewarded for their hard work with a term time trip to the offices of our sponsors, Times Radio, in London. After some workshopping where we attempted to put together a news bulletin, we toured the News Building, and had a Q&A session with the producer and host of the breakfast show. Their reflections on the unique nature of radio as a real time, intimate medium for conversation, was particularly interesting. Finally, we celebrated the end of a successful Michaelmas with our termly President’s Drinks, held at the Kings Arms. 

A great privilege of the last few months has been reconnecting with the 2004 founders of the Oxford Media Society: Zoe Flood, Vish Shrivastava and Rachel O’ Brien. “The Oxford Forum,” the society’s original publication set up by Zoe Flood, will be relaunched in the coming term by a newly appointed team of editors and creatives; we want our alumni to get involved! Whether you work in the media, an adjacent field, or in a completely different sector, we would absolutely love to have you contribute writing, creative pieces or reflections on the society as you knew it or the media today. We are also currently in the early stages of launching an exciting pilot mentorship scheme to match students with professionals in the media industry, so do get in touch. Please contact [email protected] with any thoughts, questions or ideas. 

Yours,

Veda Dharwar,

Secretary, Hilary Term 2024

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