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October 6, 2008 | by  | in Opinion |
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Editorial

Editing Salient has been one of the most enjoyable, fulfilling things I’ve ever done, and also one of the most soul-destroying experiences of my life, leaving me feeling both accomplished and incredibly bitter. I guess I took this job as an excuse to publish my own work with complete creative control, and a lot of the writing I’ve done this year – particularly court reporting and features on the justice system – were worth it. But I found the best part of this job is actually being able to work with other contributors who have shitloads of talent, helping them make their work as good as it can be, and being constantly impressed by the quality we’re sent.

I’d love to thank so many people for making this year enjoyable, and for improving Salient markedly over the course of the year. First and foremost, Tony for not only putting the magazine together and designing its look, but for anchoring the rest of the team with his phenomenally amicable attitude. Seonah and her newshounds Sarah and Sam (among others) for digging up the dirt. Jon for keeping Salient afloat. Tania and Jenna for delving into the wider issues and taking risks. Matt and Miriam for both trawling through all the copy and columnising. JJ Wood, Conrad and the rest of the political team for spiking MPs’ drinks to make them say compromising things. Haimona, for not only providing acerbic film reviews but for opening his sex life to the world and acting as my consultant on… matters. Jackson Coe, Tom, Sophie, Steph and Chris, and of course Mr Drinkwater, as well as all of their associates in reviewing for putting some culture into our pages. Neil for reminding us that the heart of all this culture is Beer, some varieties of which are incomparably better than others.

Michael, Anna, Eleanor and Jessica, Bobby and Rachael, Yvette, Miyuki, Brent and Dusty for planting our columns with fertile ideas (and other springtime metaphors – I’d also like to thank Spring for whooping Winter’s arse). Sarita for producing quirky crosswords that generally go right over my head, and for cranes. Ashleigh for her dogged determination to find interesting vox pops, and for the saga of the monsters… Mariko for the animals. Nina for cataloguing social causes. Guy, Hayden, Helen, Robbie, Martin, Grant, Matty and other wits for spicing our magazine with insanity. Our volunteer feature writers including Jenah and Matthew; our budding writers moonlighting as distributors Vinh and Jeff. VUWSA, Ngai Tauira, UniQ, The Women’s Group, DebSoc, and innumerable more clubs and societies for your support. And finally, to everyone who picked us up and took a gander at our pages.

The downside to this job is the managerial side. I love my staff and volunteers dearly and have had a ball with you guys. I’ve found Madeleine Setchell and by extension Pat Walsh approachable and helpful, so at least at the top our university is in good hands. But middle management such as campus facilities are often obstructive and more interested in their own power than in providing student services. VUWSA, of course, is dysfunctional, a childish squabble between the Workers Party (whose favourite tactic is ideological scaremongering) and Young Labour (who prefer shrill personal attacks and self-interest). And I feel myself being sucked in to these squabbles.

If there’s one thing I most regret it’s letting slip all those obvious errors and pieces of appalling grammar in the articles we’ve furiously put together late on a Thursday night. Last week I wrote that “continuing problems… demonstrate that problems remain” in the health system. Gross. I guess we just have to hope you readers laugh at such inane tautologies and other fuck-ups, and understand the unbeatable power of our Friday morning deadline. The thing is printed throughout that day and trucked down from Tauranga over the weekend (local printing being more expensive). I guess if I was less stoned we’d be more organised but, honestly? Meh.

Rather than trying to be a junior news magazine, Salient I think has been a more ponderous, academic beast this year, with smatterings of obscure humour. I know it’s been rather odd, and that my love of dragons, drug law reform and history will have moved many of you to yawn and exclaim “lame,” but there’s always been enough other content over the page to stop this being a real problem. And I am happy that I will be passing the magazine over to a pair of talented and responsible hands in the form of 2009 Editor Jackson Wood, who has displayed both a flair for informed humour and a great deal of organisational maturity as unpaid Political Editor over the course of this year. Give the man an email and take part, because after all, this is your magazine: jackson@Salient.org.nz

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About the Author ()

Tristan Egarr edited in 2008. He threw a chair once.

Comments (18)

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  1. Matthew_Cunningham says:

    Well done this year Tristan. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up from me.

  2. Jackson Wood says:

    Love you too Tristan :D

  3. Matty Smith says:

    “I guess I took this job as an excuse to publish my own work with complete creative control, and a lot of the writing I’ve done this year – particularly court reporting and features on the justice system – were worth it.”

    I was even relieved to finally read this admission from you. I told you precisely not to view it this way when you got the job. You asked me from the start to be honest, I said I would be: You have simply ignored your audience all year, instead marketing the magazine to the Salient office crowd.

    On another note, you haven’t conjugated this sentence correctly. “[…] the writing I’ve done this year […] was worth it.” The fact that your subeditors do not pick on things like this has pained me, I have no confidence in their editorial abilities at all. I think it is a great pity that, I understand, you alienated one of your most literate and detail-focused helpers quite early in the piece.

    But for all my criticisms, and for all that I have not admired your magazine, I still admire you and appreciate your friendship. Forgive me.

  4. On the contrary, every time readers have talked to me about what they wanted in the magazine i’ve responded – often by following what letters have asked for, and in the middle of the year by implementing the results of the readers’ survey.

    But I can only listen to those in my audience who actually bother voicing their opinion, and I can only implement criticisms if they contain more advice than the “it’s all shit” (which is usually all you offer).

    I’m sorry that you feel so certain that you know what Salient’s audience wants, but only because you clearly don’t actually know. Of course I’ll forgive you, because I do value you as a friend, but dude, you sure spout some rubbish at times.

  5. Jenna Powell says:

    Whoa harsh. Dude Chilllllaaaaaaaaaxxx! I think Tristan has done an excellent job and I am proud to be a part of Salient this year. The truth is you can not please everyone and you do get some harsh bitching sometimes but Tristan was always a good guy and took it in his stride which I throughly admired. I have seen first hand how Tristan takes the audience into account. He rulz!

    I might be wrong but from what I gather students do not want to be patronised so an informal style is like way important (I did that not just to annoy you)! On the other hand students want to be intellectually stimulated. But on top of that students want to laugh and escape from having to like do stuff. Student media has a diverse audience and I think Tristan made Salient an almost perfect balance of stupid immature shit and other things that were mildly (at times more than mildly…esp Tania’s features ;)) informative.

    I love Tristan he is my second fave salienteer.

    So lay off Matty. Or I’ll make you an offer you can not refuse.

  6. Jenna Powell says:

    “First and foremost, Tony for not only putting the magazine together and designing its look, but for anchoring the rest of the team with his phenomenally amicable attitude.”

    Yeah! What would we do without the admiral! Tony rulz! He’s totally amicable!

  7. Annoy Mouse says:

    I agree with ‘tonna’

  8. Matty Smith says:

    “But I can only listen to those in my audience who actually bother voicing their opinion, and I can only implement criticisms if they contain more advice than the “it’s all shit” (which is usually all you offer).”

    Look, Tristan, I only started offering lukewarm silences after you chuckled away any tangible criticism I had to offer because of your personal relationships with the writer. I never felt inclined to help you after *that* phonecall where you laughed off what I thought we very serious concerns. The major factual errors (and blatantly invented claims) that I drew to you and your staff’s attention while you were compiling the Science issue went to print, and then, quite reasonably, you got a letter pointing one of those errors out in the next issue. You’ve simply ceased to distinguish between tangible criticism and groundless personal attacks, opting always to assume the latter with me. Informal writing is great! Do it! But don’t confuse informality with lack of clarity. The fact that you quietly endorsed your staff lying (or at least misinforming) your audience quickly sapped all the will I had to contribute to what I thought, up until that point, was going to be a good magazine. I watched intently to see you shift towards a more professional dynamic, I read the magazine whenever it came into work, and there are aspects of it that were absolutely fine. The design was generally good. It was not the worst magazine on Earth by a long margin (I and my friends cling to that title, as you know). It was not “all shit”, and you are kidding to protect your own ego if you believe I ever said anything of the sort. It simply seems to me that you held your writers’ humours in higher regard than your audience’s, even at the cost of accuracy and (most importantly) clarity.

    I’m not interested in getting petty. I don’t claim to know what students ‘want’, I only know I have not heard any positive feedback about Salient from any student except from those who frequent your office and Helen. You don’t seem to have considered the fact that you took on a magazine that had already alienated the majority of its audience. I’m certainly not angry, I’ve no business to be angry. This is my perspective, something you asked for intially, and something that has made you uncomfortable every time I’ve raised it. I do not think you meant it when you said you wanted honesty from me, mainly because you think I am fundamentally wrong on all counts.

    I still love you, and I know rifts like this hurt. It does. Don’t think I say any of this lightly. You’ve already filed this in the ‘harsh bitching’ folder, there isn’t much I can really say to change that.

  9. Let’s focus on what we can agree on:

    1] we love Tristan.

    2] I’m a really crappy sub-editor.

    3] Matty’s cartoons are awesome.

    Truce?

  10. Matty Smith says:

    Fair ’nuff. This isn’t intended as a hate campaign.

  11. Michael Oliver says:

    In light of recent revelations, I would like to formally retract a falsity that appeared in one of my pieces. Barack Obama did not in fact “bang Jennifer Aniston when it meant something.” It has come to my attention that banging Jennifer Aniston has never meant anything.

    Thank you, friends will be friends, and I love each and every one of you.

  12. Matty Smith says:

    It seems Jackson won’t struggle to find ‘cutting’ satirists.

  13. Michael Oliver says:

    Matty Smith, purveyor of sarcasm.

  14. stan says:

    fuck Tristan, i didn’t know you were editor of Salient this year, i would’ve read it : P

    this is stan from Nayland by the way

  15. Starbuck says:

    Despite strong competition, this is Joel’s worst column of the year.

    Get used to hearing “one section please driver”…

  16. Starbuck says:

    The dangers of tabbed browsing. .. The comment was directed at Joel’s terrible last column not Tristan’s last editorial.

  17. Carl Dawson says:

    As a former editor of Salient (1991), I just wanted to make the observation that the content/audience debate is eternal. Editing Salient or otherwise being part of the team is an intense experience, and it’s easy to lose sight of the very broad range of interests in the wider student population, especially if the staff is a relatively homogenous group. One response is to identify the topics that don’t interest the team but do interest a substantial chunk of the students, and then reach out to people who care about those topics and want to write about them. But even with maximum success, you can’t please everyone.

    Another pretty much eternal aspect of Salient life is personality conflicts and/or disagreements over the identity of the publication. Salient, like the university, is a microcosm of the “outside” world. But regardless of the ideological differences, everyone can usually agree on quality control :-)

    Congratulations to you all, you’ll never forget the richness of the Salient life experience…

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