University is a prime time to get to know others around you, whether they’re studying on the same course as you or not. One university that has a huge campus with a vast amount of students is, of course, the University of Southampton. Meeting new people can often be quite daunting and so this is where fresher’s week jumps in. Fresher’s week offers many opportunities, from joining new societies to meeting new faces but most importantly getting your skills out there and finding something that you can apply them to. Something that might tickle your taste buds? The Wessex Scene. The Wessex Scene is a student run magazine, quite explanatory really, but an amazing piece of work that is created all year round to provide news to the students. Ellie Sellwood went from working as Sports Editor last year, to successfully winning the role of Main Editor this year. So far the first few editions of Wessex Scene have been released, showing its way into students hands in the form of a unique little magazine. But what is it really about and how could you get involved?
Nicola Manuel: Hello Ellie! Congratulations again on winning the main Editor role. How important was it for you to have got this position for your final year?
Ellie Sellwood: It’s strange because I got involved with the Wessex Scene very early on in my first year and wistfully thought that one day I’d like to be the Editor. I did not actually think that it was a feasible dream until about February this year when I realized I had a huge list of ideas I wanted to implement and thought, yes, I can do this. I went all out for the elections because I had great competition from fellow editor Charlotte Harwood who was running against me for the role. When it was announced that I’d got it I couldn’t believe it. It’s a big job with a lot of responsibility but I love it.
NM: Describe what your role entails…
EL: Fundamentally it’s about supporting and assisting my team, I could not do everything without all of them. At the beginning my role involved implementing the points in my manifesto which included engaging students, improving quality and making our brand a campus name. I am proud to say that since June when I took over we have managed to tick off a lot of what I wanted to achieve including setting up a Wessex Scene day on campus every month, redesigning the magazine and hitting 1,000,000 views on our website since it was set up 3 and a half years ago. All in all it’s been an extremely successful first six months in which I have delegated all tasks whilst supporting each of my team members, setting up meetings for contributors and keeping everyone happy and proud of what we have and continue to achieve.
NM: So what can we expect from the Wessex Scene this year that we did not see last year?
EL: For starters you can expect a newly designed magazine thanks to Graphic Designer Bronwen Rees from Winchester School of Art. Our website is also in the process of being redesigned to compliment the magazine and you can expect to see us on campus once a month. The imagery in our magazine is reaching 100% original as more and more artists and designers continue to get involved. We have a new headline article every day and on many occasions more than one headline, which is an improvement from last year. Six articles written this year have made their way on to the National student publication website ‘Ones to Watch’ which shows that the journalism we produce is of a high quality here at Southampton and nationally.
NM: How important is it for you to incorporate not only Highfield Campus, but also the surrounding campuses including the Winchester School of Art?
EL: Considering that three members of our editorial team are based in Winchester, engagement is of utmost importance. Amy Harwood, our Winchester editor, now has eight committed writers and our imagery team continues to grow thanks to our Imagery editors Sasha Spaid and Bryony Wellburn, who co-ordinate artists and designers from both campuses. Bronwen Rees now takes full control of design so this process has moved from Southampton to Winchester. As a result of this engagement the Wessex Scene is a platform for the talent of both campuses which makes me one proud Editor.
NM: If someone wanted to get involved with the Wessex Scene, how would they go about doing that?
EL: They could come and meet us on the redbrick outside Southampton University’s Students’ Union building on the second Thursday of each month, or email firstname.lastname@example.org or come along to a contributors’ meeting either at Southampton or at Winchester. Details can be found on our facebook page for Contributors, www.facebook.com/wscontributors. It’s never too late to get involved.
NM: What do you want the Wessex Scene to say to students this year?
EL: I want our magazine and website to inform and educate students about issues such as housing, mental health awareness and Union elections. We endeavour to produce content which is relevant, interesting and of high quality. But any student can get involved as we have committed to giving training and feedback to all our contributors. I hope that the content we produce says to students that they can make informed decisions, engage in debate and showcase their own work.
NM: How are you going to keep the attention of students over the course of this next educational year?
EL: As I’ve just said, I think the key is providing content which is relevant. I hope to take National, local and university events and make them accessible to students. We have just had a Referendum about whether SUSU (Southampton University’s Students’ Union) should join the NUS (National Union of Students) or not. It was by far the biggest political event at university this semester so we provided a large range of balanced coverage for our readers. Our Pause section also draws in a lot of students as a lot of work has gone into rebranding it and producing high quality satirical and fun articles. This section also gets a lot of hits thanks to the dedication of Pause Editor Sam Everard.
NM: Social media is becoming quite a vast appearance in magazines today, how are you going to incorporate this with the Wessex Scene?
EL: We now update our Wessex Scene facebook page every time a new article is published, and many sections now have their own Twitter accounts so that they can publicise their articles too. We also have an Instagram and Tumblr, so I guess you could say we are using as many means as possible to get our work out to as many people as possible.
NM: The fall of magazines and books is a topic of conversation on most publishers’ lips, how do you feel about the world of the internet taking over the formation of the physical copy?
EL: I think that whilst it is an impending threat to magazines and books we should be thinking of ways to make both mediums appealing as there is nothing like a physical copy of a book or magazine. I am still holding off buying a kindle because I like the feeling of turning pages and those particularly dog-eared books which has been loved and handed to family and friends only to come back to you. I think that art will have a huge part to play in keeping magazines and books in print as many books and magazines require an attention grabbing front cover. Yes, they say don’t judge a book by its cover, but artwork does play a huge role. Our magazine hosts some breathtaking imagery this year and each copy can be put into each artist’s portfolio.
Quick round questions to finish off? Go on then…
Magazine or book? Magazine, but that is a particularly tough question seeing as I am an Editor and an English student.
Reading or writing? Reading.
Facebook or twitter? Facebook.
Cake or biscuits? Cake.
Gossip or fact? Fact.
If you ever happen to be on the Southampton or Winchester campus, part of the University of Southampton, then grab a copy to see what these busy editors and Ellie have been doing! It’s a good read full of fantastic articles and beautiful imagery. Indeed it is a taster for everyone.