Editing the student rag is a coveted job among university students seeking a career in the media. But competition is intense, and for the average first-year student who ‘just wants to write’, it can be difficult to know what sort of content is required in a student publication. To this end, I have generously provided some helpful hints.

The first thing you must understand is that you are now a tastemaker, a trend-setter, a pulse fingerer. Sordid details of your undergraduate existence? The people want to know! So mention that dress-up party where all the guests were eating stale hash cookies on a Newtown rooftop, which only ended in the early hours of Tuesday morning when one of the editors tied a goon bag to their head and climbed up the Hills Hoist. Keep on mentioning it, in fact. Make it a comical motif that runs like spilt Fruity Lexia through every edition. The Arts students who were at the party, and who, let’s face it, constitute the paper’s main readership, will get the joke; the rest will just wish they were there.

Another important rule is that fashion is bad when it’s tacky blondes with mainstream noses modeling surfwear. Include these, and you will be overwhelmed by letters from those pesky Cultural Studies lesbians. However, if your model is photographed in front of graffiti, looks disoriented yet lascivious in a just-had-GHB-slipped-into-my-cocktail-before-having-rough-back-alley-sex kind of way, she can still be beautiful and fashion-skinny. Likewise, if the male model looks disaffected, so much so that he may have just written a poem or painted a picture, it is perfectly acceptable for him to drape a paternalistic arm around her while they model that cult t-shirt collection. Remember, props such as chunky black glasses and avant-garde footwear will take your models from babes to beatniks in an instant. Furthermore, it is known that incorporating a random plant or foodstuff into a photoshoot (cucumber, cactus) instantly propels it into the realm of Art, and will remove any objection to gratuitous displays of nubile flesh. If her eyes say she wants to screw someone’s brains out, a beret will make it clear she has to write an essay on Kafka first.

Student magazines use tropes such as irony and self-deprecation to appeal to newly cynical university students. This style also provides editors with the perfect opportunity to practice affecting the world-weary, perpetually hungover persona of the inner-city journalists they will no doubt one day become. Hence, articles with any combination of the words Spot A How To Hipster are common. But they will not merely catalogue an amusing list of this much maligned creature’s identifying features (plays xylophone in an indie band, has controversial haircut, collects vintage electronics etc.). No, these articles are one step ahead. They know that in this post post-modern world the true hipster is not the independent filmmaker with the unique headwear, blithely going about his business on a fixed-gear bicycle; the true hipster is THE ONE WRITING THE ARTICLE! The first sentence of the afore-mentioned article will invariably be a little disclaimer that they are hip to this fact, because there is nothing hipsters like more than talking about hipsters and demonstrating irony. Or writing bitchy blogs about the ones writing articles about the ones wearing the funny glasses.

I hope this guide has been useful. To the aspiring editor I say have fun, drink responsibly, and if ever in doubt just make reference to cask wine, two-minute noodles, and the hilarious adventures of your grotty housemate who used to cook the latter in the former. It NEVER gets old.

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