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An Insight into the Gair Rhydd

1 July 2020

The Gair Rhydd is the official student newspaper at Cardiff University and has won numerous awards for its journalism. It is available printed in the student union and online on their website. It offers the opportunity to students to hone their journalism skills and gain invaluable experience in their chosen journalism sector. Gair Rhydd boasts a multitude of sections: Politics, Taf-od, @Caerdydd, Science, Sport, Features, Advice – all with student editors.

Taf-od is a welsh speaking section, while the @caerdydd is written in English about Cardiff life.

There are various job roles, from Editor-in-chief and section editors to the digital team. The students in these roles are interviewed and selected from student applicants but anyone can write for the paper. Contributors can join the Facebook page for that year and every week editors post articles contributors can write. This is a flexible way to still be a part of the paper as it means that when you have time you can write articles and create a portfolio of your work.

Tirion Davies is the editor-in-chief this year for the Gair Rhydd and was a section editor last year. I asked her a few questions to get a broader sense of the experience the Gair Rhydd offers.

What was the most rewarding aspect of your experience last year?

Last year was the first year I was actively involved in the newspaper, as part of the Editorial team. Undoubtedly, the most rewarding aspect of my experience was heading the section @Caerdydd, which was a new section I was given a lot of creative control over. It was daunting but also incredibly exciting to be starting a new section and discovering what worked and what didn’t, and how to build the section so that the articles weren’t always about places to go in Cardiff or things to do!

What are you most looking forward to this year as Editor-in-Chief?

Becoming Editor-in-Chief was definitely a daunting experience, and it seems hard at first to find your bearings. But now, a few months in, I’m extremely excited about seeing how the paper expands this year, and I’m thrilled that we’ve managed to build a team which such diverse interests! I’m most looking forward to seeing the articles produced by our team and seeing how their individual styles of writing can complement each other throughout the paper. We’ve got a really great team this year and a few new ideas on how to expand the paper, so I’m excited to see how well we’re able to implement these ideas and grow as a team!

Could you take me through a week in the life of a section editor?

Being a Section Editor with the paper seems far more daunting a task than it truly is – there are always plenty of people ready to give you a helping hand! As a Section Editor, your week starts on Monday, with a quick email to the Editor-in-Chief about pitch ideas that you have for the paper. Monday evenings consist of an Editorial Meeting where each section is able to share their pitch ideas, and where you’ll get notes or approvals on articles (Editorial Meetings are great, in case two sections have similar ideas – it’s an easy way of discussing how you can differentiate between both articles!). Of course, our Monday evenings wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Taf, where Editors are able to unwind and get to know each other a little better over dirty fries!

From Tuesday to Thursday, Section Editors have time to write their articles (or get submissions from contributors) and come into the office to design their page using Adobe InDesign. Designing the page can seem stressful at first, but quickly, Editors find it takes them no more than about two hours to complete a page (mostly due to procrastination). Thursday evenings are our deadline for articles to be written and designed, so that we can dedicate Friday mornings to proofreading articles and ensuring the flow of the newspaper is cohesive. Friday mornings see a few Section Editors and Copy Editors in the office to proofread before the issue is sent off to print at around 3pm.

Monday mornings we start all over again, but we thankfully get to see the product of our hard work with a print issue!

What about the social side of the paper, is there anything that happens outside of the office for the team?

The paper certainly has a healthy social life! The Editorial Team consistently has a very familial atmosphere, and so even from the very first Editorial Meeting and subsequent Taf outing, it felt as though I was welcomed with open arms. The weekly Taf excursion after the Editorial Meetings are a great way of getting to know one another; there’s no need to go overboard with the drinks, and everyone is a little more relaxed. We, of course, have a social side, and we will often do events together – occasionally it involves alcohol, but 9 out of 10 outings are about team-building, and bonding, which is incredibly easy to do when everyone’s laughing at how terrible we all are at bowling!

Has the Gair Rhydd interviewed any famous people?

Gair Rhydd has a great reputation as the student newspaper for Wales’ only Russell Group University, and so we’re very lucky to get interviews from some famous faces from time to time! Tomos Evans, our previous Editor-in-Chief had the incredible experience of being able to interview the First Minister for Wales, Mark Drakeford, very soon after he was first elected First Minister. We’ve since been able to keep a good relationship with the First Minister! One of our Editors last year was lucky enough to interview Gavin & Stacey’s Robert Wilfort, who played Stacey’s brother Jason, ahead of the much-anticipated Christmas special! We’ve been able to speak to bands like Los Campesinos! who formed at Cardiff University in addition to TJ Roberts, another Cardiff-formed band who are up-and-coming.

Some of our Editors were reporting at the UCU rally, where former Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn was speaking to the audience who gathered, and his successor, Keir Starmer was also in Cardiff, where Gair Rhydd was able to listen to him speak with members of the Cardiff Labour Party. We’ve been lucky to speak with many famous people, including Ed Miliband, Jacob Rees Mogg, Adam Price, Jo Stevens, Jenny Rathbone, Kirsty Williams, George North, Natalie Powell and Michaela Breeze to name but a few. I’d say we’ve been very lucky, and hopefully our luck will grow!

So whether you are keen to join the team as a section editor, digital team member or as a weekly contributor, the Gair Rhydd offers an amazing opportunity to meet new people and develop your experience for the world of journalism.