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Behind the Scenes at The Saint

Ah, student journalism. Much like horse girls, musical theatre kids, and the dreaded clay pigeon crew we are committed to our craft. Marching up and down Market Street with a distressed look on our face, a reporter’s pad, and a self-inflicted superiority complex, we’ll be found bringing up The Saint at every available opportunity. It makes us feel like we’re BNOCs (spoiler alert: we’re actually rather lame, but hey ho, at least we’re self aware).

When you’ve put as much time, effort, and love into producing 32 pages of what one Fessdrews fan recently lovingly dubbed “toilet paper” as The Saint’s editorial board (#StFessdrews42110 if you are interested), nothing quite beats the feeling of shoving it into the hands of any nearby (un)willing pedestrians. Your hearts may sink when you see a stack of papers outside the library, and you may well curse whoever inflicted this dark and twisted form of torture on you. After all, you’re already hungover on a Thursday morning, why should you have to wrack your brains formulating a convoluted excuse as to why you don’t want a copy (to the gentleman who used “I can’t read”, fair play, you made us laugh and we think about you daily). In honour of our 270th edition, and recently being named the UKs most creative student journalists, we thought it was only right to collaborate one last time and shed some light on what goes on in the windowless, airless, lifeless box that we are so fortunate to call home.

The week starts on a highly optimistic note. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and our two day hiatus ensures we are thrilled to be reunited at our fortnightly pitch meeting. “How was your Friday?” we ask each other, as if we haven’t been obsessively texting in the interim to stave off any separation anxiety. “Got my book review in” comes from one colleague, “Had a pint and half” another says excitedly, “it was alright” says Ed. The joie de vivre is palpable, indeed. After two nail biting hours of “That sounds boring” or “Can you get him to have a rethink”, or “Please make sure it doesn’t end up being shit this time”, we finalise the content for next week’s issue. Easy days, you might think. Wrong — the next five days is populated by frantic pinging from Facebook messenger. Writers who have gone AWOL, pitches that have been changed, and unreadable copy all topped off by the concern of the ever-looming threat of a defamation lawsuit. The grind, as they say, never stops.

Fantastic, all the articles are in. Now it’s time to ensure things are grammatically correct. For a group who claim they want to write for a living, the grasp of ‘English’ is tenuous at best. Don’t worry, we’re allowed to make that joke, this is coming from the two people responsible for two out of three of the front page typos in the last two years (I’ve looked it up, accommodation IS difficult to spell). Thankfully, we have a faithful team of dedicated copy editors working around the clock to ensure our beloved Oxford Comma is in place, Americanisms are banished, and punctuation goes outside the quotation marks.

If you’ve ever questioned your friendship with someone, we have the perfect test. Sitting beside them, watching like a hawk, as they struggle with drop quotes, finding the pink lines that are more unavailable than your tutor for Office Hours, and linking their images. Welcome to Adobe InDesign. Ladies, if he can find the ‘ignore text wrap’ button, he can find anything. After a combined total of what feels like a million hours, we’re presented with a document entitled “Features Final UNCORRUPTED Final 2 Final Done”. It never is final though, there’s always a different version lurking somewhere in Creative Cloud.

It’s at this point, a Deliveroo from Coco di Mama is devoured, at least nine empty Diet Cokes lie strewn on the table, and a few messages saying “Really sorry, let her know she’s been cut for an ad” are sent (money moves). Yes, that’s right, it’s the Exec team sequestered in the office frantically moving pages around from one document to the next. A sigh of relief. “Wait, why are there only 31 pages?” a frantic cry. SHIT. PUZZLES. Cue the next half an hour making a crossword (read: Isabel screaming at Sophia and Amelia to think of random words, hence why there’s never any theme or sense of coherence. Rather, they are inspired by miscellaneous objects in the office and google searches for “hard words english”.) Next up, making a sudoku that has at least two solutions, and harassing anyone who has both “St Andrews” and “Football” on their Facebook profile for a mysterious “Sunday League Table”. Ah well, there’s always next year.

Okay, it’s finished. Stunning. Send to printers. Relax. Oh wait no, there’s a typo. Oh, and an article in A&C finishes on ‘and’. That’s an odd way to end a sentence. Oh well, maybe next time. Thankfully, there’s an opportunity to drown our sorrows at The Saint social. It’s the place to be. An eclectic group, shall we say, all united by one thing. A love for student journalism (or a blood thirsty desire for a byline, you take your pick).

This is the thing about The Saint, or any society for that matter. You get involved because it’s something that you love but, before you know it, you’ve met people you genuinely adore. People you would never have met in any other situation. People who will take you out for a pint after a bad breakup. People who will bring you a croissant when you’re super hungover without you asking. People who will sleep in your bed to keep you company after a meltdown. And, most importantly, people who will laugh at your font-related jokes. And fundamentally, that’s why, like horse girls, musical theatre kids, and the dreaded clay pigeon crew, we’re committed to our craft. Because the one thing you joined on a whim in first year for a bit of a laugh, or because your mum told you to give it a go, ends up defining your university experience.

And that’s pretty damn special.

Illustration: Clodagh Earl

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