What is the purpose of a student newspaper?
Here at Spark*, we feel that one aim of a student paper is to be as relevant to the students of the University of Reading as possible. The purpose of a student newspaper is to let students know what is happening on campus and for those students to feel the paper is a way of getting their voice heard. We try to keep it as university-based as possible – failing that, as student-relevant as possible. Another is to offer valuable and accurate work experience for students wanting a career in the media.

How can people get involved?
People can get involved by emailing editor.spark@reading.ac.uk where we can give them contact details for the section editors they are interested in writing for. There are so many sections in the paper that there is always a chance to write for something you are interested in.

What are the benefits of writing for a student publication?
Writing for a student publication is a fantastic thing to be a part of. It gives you great experience for working in the media; it looks good on your CV; you have the chance to meet lots of people and work as a team producing the paper; and sometimes you get some freebies – be it a press pass to a rugby game, some food or a night in a Travelodge. Ah the perks…

How much does it cost to become a member?
It is completely free to be a part of the Spark* team. Just log on to www.sparknewspaper.co.uk or www.facebook.com/SparkNewspaper to find contact details of the editorial team.

What kind of commitment do you have to give as a student writer or member of editorial?
The greatest commitment you have to give as part of the Spark* team is time. It does depend on how much you want to be involved, though. As a writer, you can write as little or as much as you want. As a section editor, you have to allocate articles and then format them on to the page. As a proofreader, all you have to do is check over as many or as few pages as you like. As editor and deputy editor, it takes a lot more time but is rewarding. It involves checking the paper’s content, sending the pages off to the printer and sorting any problems with either content or within the editorial team.

How do you find juggling your uni work and social life, with being Editor? How much of your time does it take?
It’s a learning process! It takes up a lot of time and I have to be really clever with how I balance my time. I try to make sure that when it’s not newspaper deadline week, I get as much uni work done as I can so that on deadline week, I am concentrating on the paper. I try to start essays as soon into the term as I can so that if the paper takes up a lot of time one week, I’m not left with too much to do. It takes time up every day, though, as I am always checking emails, answering queries about the paper and meeting with the editorial team or other interested parties.

Do many members go onto careers in journalism? Any famous journalists?
Those who previously worked at Spark* have gone on to work at the BBC, The Guardian and local newspapers. Some have gone on to be involved with public communications for large companies such as John Lewis whereas others have become script writers or involved in publishing or PR.

What is the best thing about being a member of a student newspaper?
It is really fun. Working as a team to get the paper ready is a lot of work and pressure but, as you’re working together it doesn’t seem a hardship. You get away with a lot more than you might elsewhere too. It’s just a great ‘extra-curricular’ activity to do and, as it looks great on your CV, it is a worthwhile thing to be a part of.

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