In my third year of Uni, I wrote for The Tab’s Hull site. I enjoyed it but was not paid. As someone who aims to write for a living, this might seem a little odd.
But I didn’t write for The Tab to make money – I knew that writing for them wouldn’t directly make me any money (they are now experimenting with a payments/prize/bonus/rewards system for writers based on how many shares per month their articles recieve.) but that it would reward me in the future.
The Guardian posted a story earlier today that is a grumble against The Tab, because despite raising a couple of million in venture capital, and generating income through sponsored stories, does not pay all of its writers. It does have a few paid staff, and is now experimenting with a rewards program, but I don’t think the reason that people write for it is the money.
It’s for the experience. I wrote a couple of stories a week (or at least, I was meant to), and I learnt how to write for a specific audience – look at the difference between some of the earlier and later stories to see this.
But why not write for your Uni’s student newspaper?
When I was at Hull, The Hullfire wasn’t that good – despite the efforts of its editors and writers. I remember arguing with some of Hull University Union to say that something should be front page on the newspaper (there were complaints against one of the sabbatical officers), and being told that the newspaper wasn’t allowed to criticise the Union… despite there being a standing order that explicitly allowed them to do so. By the time that I left Hull, the newspaper was growing more critical.
That was why I decided to see if I could write for the The Tab. They said ok, and then I started writing. They told me where I was going wrong and if something wasn’t that good.
And they were independent which meant that we could be critical of HUU… and have great fun during the student elections.
The Tab also had opportunities for its writers – assistance to get on training schemes, work experience at their office, contacts in the industry, talks… Student newspapers don’t generally have that level of access to opportunities. For some people it is something that they can put (or maybe hide off of) on their CV.
Leave off The Tab, Guardian, they are doing a good job!