Guest Post – Samuel Lear: getting a degree and a good CV


This week the Wannabe Hacks return to where it all began for a chat with the Editor of Redbrick newspaper, Samuel Lear. He tells us about the sought-after secrets of balancing a student paper with a degree…

If you are involved in a weekly student newspaper, finding the right balance between coursework and paper commitments is perhaps the most daunting challenge you will undertake at university.

Two weeks ago I saw the first issue of Redbrick go to print after a 50-hour week in the office. Those 50 hours saw me deal with numerous unforeseen complications in both online and print – so many in fact that they seemed to never-end.  Already I am somewhat behind on my coursework and rely on messages from course-friends to remind me of a seminar that I am supposed to attend.

Samuel Lear

Therefore, it would seem that I have yet to find that balance – but the question of how to juggle coursework and student journalism is the wrong one in my view. The most important aspect of eventually finding this happy medium between the two is to find a balance between ‘work’ in general, and those precious couple of hours of reflection, relaxation and rest.

If you are bogged-down in the detail of how to balance work with work, your mind starts to become corrupt of what is important, which means that the overall picture can never be fully appreciated. When you can fully grasp the bigger picture, you’re in a perfect position to start sensibly balancing coursework with societal commitments.

For example, after we had sent the paper to press I got my first opportunity to watch television in days. The pictures of the rescued Chilean miners did bring a degree of perspective to my life that is often lost within the confines of the office walls.

Needless to say that just because achieving a three-way balance between a degree, student media and ‘switching-off’ requires the greatest exercise of self-discipline, it doesn’t mean that all three cannot complement each other.

The advantage of an action-packed day is that it does bring about routine, whereas many students without such structure have an erratic sleeping and work pattern. If properly rested and refreshed, your ability to make the right judgments and appreciate short- and long-term objectives can be enhanced significantly.

Most importantly, there always needs to be a realisation of the primary objective of going to university – and that is to achieve a degree with quality. Whilst we are all passionate about the media – and perhaps to the extent of obsession – a blind devotion to it will inevitably lead us unstuck if we fall short of a good degree that is now so necessary to secure employment.

The key is planning and self-discipline.

It is human nature to concentrate on the subjects that interest you most, which is why an imbalance between coursework and student media can exist. It is imperative to be able to remove yourself from the chaos and work out how to achieve the utmost efficiency in all areas – this is a character building process.

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About Matthew Caines
Community & content for the Guardian Culture & Media professional networks | founder of @wannabehacks @withinreachmag | find him on Twitter @mattcaines

2 Responses to Guest Post – Samuel Lear: getting a degree and a good CV

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Guest Post – Samuel Lear: getting a degree and a good CV « Wannabe Hacks -- Topsy.com

  2. Gaz says:

    I’m the current editor of my university’s student newspaper. It’s like herding feral cats through a thunderstorm with a pack of wolves baying at your heels – sooner or later something’s got to give!

    Delegation is key; as an editor or section editor you will have people beneath you who can delegate smaller tasks to, letting you concentrate on the bigger picture. Have faith in your deputies! It’s infinitely better to have five people doing five small tasks than it is two people desperately trying to do it all themselves.

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