We lost three freshers under a collapsed stack of the Oxford ForumEntering a JCR the other day, I collided with a stack of Isis magazines. They fell, shattered both my arms, and now I type with my nose. We lost three freshers under a collapsed stack of the Oxford Forum. When we tunnelled in, one had gnawed off his own neck to survive. They’d been crushed for four weeks, with Gordon Brown caricatures jammed into their eyelids. They were never the same again: there’s only so much punishment the human body can take, and five articles on universities is just too much to withstand. They still wake up screaming, screeching shallow bullshit about feminism in Palau. There’re too many. There’re enough of these needless publications to build a life-size replica of God himself, his vengeful face reminding us of our own stupidity. My theory: no-one wants to leave Oxford without being an editor at least once. Last Monday I started a magazine, printing haikus about death onto toilet tissue. By Tuesday, five people applied to be deputy editors; by Wednesday they’d forced me out, and were selling ad space to KPMG. It didn’t all fit, so they cut the last line from each haiku. I wrote a letter to complain, but they cut it, so they could all fit their names in bold. One got work experience on The Times after that. Well done to her.Elsewhere, a magazine sells copies for money. If it’s good, it sells enough of them, it gets cash and adverts, and if it doesn’t, it dies. But here, the only number we have is that of copies abandoned in JCRs. Based on that number, they get adverts; with the money from these, they can print more copies; with more copies printed, they get better adverts, for which they get more money. It’s journalistic perpetual motion, but the downside is that there’s no incentive to make your magazine at all readable. When the number you print magically equals your readership, there’s no need: you might as well fill it with hats playing chess, or with swans joking about bikes (The Monk’s Passage). These copies then have to go somewhere. That’s when the crushings start.Here’s a game I’ve been playing. Take any one of these exercises in portfolio-stuffing masquerading as student interest – Real World, The Monk’s Passage, The Owl, Gateway, The Tart – then take a friend, and a stack of coins. Challenge the friend to read the magazine cover to cover: they’ll refuse. Then you offer them money, increasing it until they comply, and from this you work out how much the pain’s worth. No-one I asked would read The Owl for less than a fiver. What people are saying isn’t just ‘I won’t buy this’, not even ‘I won’t read this’; it’s ‘I might pretend to read this, but only if you buy me two pints, so I can clear the mental skidmarks. Oh, you owe me. I hate this shit.’ Editors: learn this, and shut up.