Latest Stag Mag (Exclusive Download) – 28 October 2013
Regular readers will know of my involvement with the half-termly production of The Stag, my school’s Sixth Form-run newsmagazine, that I – along with my friends Chloe and Jack – reinvented this time last year.
It’s great to edit, because I’m continually reminded of Jeremy Vine’s ‘rule’ of news: that the audience “have better stories than we do”. In other words, stories that I think are big and important (Labour’s price-freeze energy policy, the BBC execs being called before MPs again, the change in theory over Madeleine McCann’s abduction) turn out to not necessarily match the news-agenda of our predominantly Sixth Form-aged readership.
I know this because the magazine’s writers are all Sixth Formers too. So if a Year 12 of 13 thinks a new bit of research into the health effects of sleep deprivation is important, they’re more than welcome to go and write an article on it. (I must admit that there was something of an irony to my editing of that particular piece at 4:00am one morning last week…)
Thank goodness I’m not required to generate ideas for articles for the Sport pages – although, I did have to commission one of my friends to write a report on the England vs Poland match. Even I knew (despite having not watched it myself) that this match had secured our place in next year’s World Cup, so something about it had to go in. Sadly, this edition’s Stag Sport pages feature only football, but we’ll work on getting a wider range for next time.
Going back to both Labour’s energy policy and the McCanns, you’ll notice my uncredited, space-filling NIBs on these stories scattered throughout the magazine.
What you won’t see in the magazine is anything on the big story (of the year, really) that is FGM. Those three explosively-charged letters that, until relatively recently, meant nothing to much of the world. Now, of course, we all think we’ve been lectured to death on the culture of cutting that was alien to so many of us until earlier this year – but it’s something I nonetheless wanted to get in to The Stag.
But there’s a problem.
The Stag‘s audience is hugely varied. Yes, in terms of ethnic diversity, but also in terms of age. Whilst I’ve always said that the publication should be written by Sixth Formers for Sixth Formers, it certainly ‘gets around’. Copies are not just left in the Sixth Form Centre, but sent to every form-group in the school; each, due to the vertical tutoring system at Furze Platt, contains students ranging from 11 to 16. As I explained to Chloe: “What that all means is that some of our readers go home and watch Newsround; others stay up to watch Newsnight.”
I looked on Newsround‘s website to see what – if any – comment they’d made on FGM. Nothing. Sadly, this meant that, realistically, it would have to stay out of our magazine too.
Other stories I fought vehemently to retain. Dramatic, encapsulating photojournalism from Kenya and Syria could stay, relented Mr Bown, the Deputy Head, who acts as my own post-Leveson Royal Charter watchdog, because we’re printing under the FPSS name. He did insist on reordering some stories, so that Erin’s late-night revise of her US Government shutdown piece could break the bloodshed of ‘Boyfriend Throttles Woman’, ‘Syria Bomb Attack’, and ‘Massacre at the Mall’.
Ultimately, though, I’m very happy with this latest edition. Now, read it for yourself, and see what you think. (Paper copies will be in every classroom at school from the first Tuesday back after half-term.)