Thanks to some anonymous tips, HackOx has learned that the wonderful student media of Oxford may not be as free and unbiased as it first appears. Indeed, it would seem that the snaky tentacles of both OUCA and the Union have managed to worm their way into some of Oxford’s leading journalistic establishments. So, who has their fingers in which pies?
First to OUCA, and it would seem that the electioneering of this term’s (currently uncontested) Presidential hopeful, Wojciech Woznicki, is not confined merely to the propagating of spurious tales about his former rival, Shane Finn. Perhaps taking a leaf out of Blair’s book, Woznicki has decided to align himself with candidates spread across the Oxford media, including current OxStu News Editor, Matt Burwood, running for the role of Political Officer, as well as current OUCA Treasurer and Cherwell Comment Editor, Patrick Mulholland, with whom he ran on the successful slate of George Walker last term.
Woznicki’s slate had also included two VERSA staff members: allegedly former HackWatch, Angus McNeill Peel, and current News Editor, Tom Munro. However, McNeill Peel has since left VERSA, being one of the “smattering of resignations” which followed editor Kate Bickerton’s decision to stay on as Editor-in-Chief, whilst Munro has dropped out of the running. HackOx can only assume that the phrase “conflict of interest” is one better understood by some OUCA members than by others.
It would appear that the importance of the media is not lost on current Union President Stuart Webber, either. He is believed to have implemented a new policy for allocating speakers for interviews to the student papers; rather than, as predecessors have done, dividing up speakers at the start of term, Webber is apparently allocating speakers to papers on a rolling basis, dependent upon how favourable his coverage has been in the respective papers each week. Crafty.
The upshot of this is that several articles from the Cherwell this term have been pulled, whilst their online-only peers at VERSA have tried the sycophancy route. The Facebook post was greeted by a snide remark from former VERSA writer Peter Johnstone, who stormed out of the paper last term after he failed in his application to become editor. Johnstone posted a screenshot from an apparent conversation between himself and Bickerton, who is pictured saying that VERSA does not “kowtow to [the] Union”.
It is believed Union pressure was also the reason for the removal of a VERSA article at the end of last term about electoral malpractice at the Union, which disappeared within ten minutes of its being published. HackOx does not wish to comment on whether or not the close friendships between Webber and former-Union President/VERSA section editor Olivia Merrett, and between Merrett and then VERSA editor Jake Hurfurt, had anything to do with this.
HackOx does not hold out much hope of securing Union interviews in the near future…