Life Divided: Cherwell

Nicola Dwornik and Emma Leech express their love-hate relationship with Cherwell

For (Nicola Dwornik):

Sitting on the expansive lawns of Christ Church Meadow, I crack open a can of San Pellegrino and recline.

I pull out a copy of this week’s Cherwell, perusing my editorial efforts in this week’s issue. Then, upon laughing a bit too heavily at this week’s satire section, I lose concentration as I turn a page. The newsprint slices into my hand and I bleed. But the blood is strangely coloured; it is the same slightly off-red colour of the Cherwell logo. Amid the serene background, I realise I can no longer deny the truth. I am a proud member of Cherwell, and it is a cult that I love.

I knew I was entering something greater than a student newspaper from my very first day. Upon arriving at the building, I was immediately chastised for calling the building an office—“it’s the Choffices, actually”. I soon realised that Cherwell, like a cult, maintains its own codex of grammatical preferences. Innocently named as the ‘Style Guide’, this document is the written belief system that Cherwell is founded upon. Within it, for example, the superiority of the em dash over the en dash is given great attention. After all, the former is the patron saint of Cherwell; there is even a shrine to the em dash in the corner of the ‘Choffice’.

Whilst Cherwell may seem full of pretentious peoples, at least there is a hierarchy that all members gladly conform to. Myself, as an editor of the notorious Life section, am a cult leader. The editors are mere pawns that feed (fake) news to OSPL, and deputies happily supervise the various section editors, subjecting them to hours of learning-through-struggle on the InDesign newspaper design system. It’s like one big happy family.

Like all good cults we have our rivals and renegades. Whilst we may very much express a superiority over other publications we appreciate their existence, as it only makes us a stronger and more cohesive publication. So, let us celebrate Cherwell. Members don’t generally bite and it’s all rather nice really. Besides, crewdates don’t permit blood offerings.

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Against (Emma Leech):

The worst thing is that it is impossible to avoid. You scroll innocently through Facebook, and you are accosted by yet another article about Oxford’s pseudo-politics. You stroll innocently down St Aldates only to be barged out of the way by some blazer-wearing mini-Paxman, muttering something about the Choffices. You have to wade your way through thousands of unread papers just to make yourself a cup of tea in the JCR. Cherwell is everywhere and, even more annoyingly, so are its wannabe journalists.

If a gust of wind blows the paper open in the JCR every once in a while, or more likely, one of your token journo friends shoves it in your face because, “no but you simply must read this article I wrote,” then this is what you’ll see. The news section desperately tries to intersperse dull local events with ‘fun’ JCR motions, pretending that seeing “dank memes” in print isn’t vomit-inducing. Comment is like leaving the Union after a debate and having a series of bumbling boys following you down Cornmarket going, “oh and another thing about globalisation…” If you have the stomach to continue, you are faced with culture. Recognise those names? Yeah, they’re the ones whose profile pictures change every thirty seconds to advertise their new play. And, as if that wasn’t enough, they’ve written about it too. If it’s not them, it’s the music writers who are too cool for Cherwell. No really, they even go to Cellar. Investigations remind us, helpfully, each week that Oxford is still living in the eighteenth century. And, honestly, I just commend you if you make it to the back for Sport.

Essentially, Cherwell is a conglomeration of all the worst people in Oxford: the Union hacks, the politicians, the thespians, and everyone else who thinks their opinion is more valid than yours because they have managed to get it down in ink. Thank goodness for the Life section. Once described to me as, “The Tab-iest part of Cherwell,” here you can find solace, at least, in the self-awareness of the editors.

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We get it. You hate us.