In a special edition of ’10 minutes with’, Epigram’s Freya Shaw sits down with Newsworks to talk about the ramifications of studying (and reporting) through Covid, her post-uni travel plans and a particularly apt set of fantasy dinner party guests…
First off, congrats on your award. How does it feel?
It feels amazing! It’s great to have the hard work throughout the year recognized by the SPA and for such an incredible award. The other people who were shortlisted were incredibly talented and driven, so to be even nominated was a huge achievement for me.
How did you get into student journalism?
I got into student journalism in my second year of university and joined Epigram as a news reporter. I had just spent almost the entirety of my first year in lockdown and really mentally struggled during a really intense year for everyone. Joining the paper helped me to experience the student community that I had felt so disconnected from in my first year and it has been one of the best decisions.
What makes student journalism important to university life
Student journalism is so important because it’s such a short, new and intense period of your life. When you come to university you’re coping with leaving home and a cosseted school environment for the first time — it’s a first sense of independence, with life, friendship and studying to contend with. That can be very daunting.
What student journalism can do is get across a sense of shared feelings that can help guide students through the difficulties, give direction and understanding and also inspire people about what’s possible. Giving a voice to student issues from a student viewpoint can help people feel seen and navigate this period of their life.
What has been the highlight of your student journalism career so far?
Recently my friend Marine Saint and I ran a three-day careers week for women in media, dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion within the industry. We hosted three panel discussions with 15 high-profile women to discuss their career path with audiences of roughly 60 people each day.
The enthusiastic feedback we got from the attendees really made the months of organisation worthwhile, but being able to provide a space for other women to speak and connect was equally amazing. I am glad I had the platform to be able to facilitate that.
Best scoop (yours or someone else’s)
I think we’ve lived through a unique period with Covid and we are still seeing the ramifications from it. Having gone through it myself, I was all too aware of the mental health impact this has had on my generation of university and A level students.
I wrote an article highlighting how Covid had detrimentally impacted university life, talking about online exams, drop out rates over the last few years, to build a picture of how university life was fundamentally changed by the pandemic.
What’s next for you?
Next year I’m taking a year out to travel and take a step back from education. I’m not completely sure of what my next career step will be but sometimes the best opportunities come when you least expect it.
I’ve worked freelance as a video editor on top of other things separately from my Epigram commitments for a few years so I’ll probably look to build on these skills and make lots of fun travel videos from my time abroad.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Take your time and don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to do.
I find that as a student and a young person growing up, there is so much pressure to decide what you want to do, especially as it feels like everyone around you knows exactly what they want to do and has their life mapped out already.
You can do something, and change, and change again. Life is so flexible, so just take your time deciding what it is you enjoy, and finding what works best for you.
Who or what inspires you most?
I have so many people around me that it’s hard to choose just one as an inspiration.
Working amongst a team at Epigram, with other people with similar goals has driven me to achieve so much more this year than I thought was possible. So it would be the support of my friends and family that inspires me to push myself and do more.
Who would be your fantasy dinner party guests and why?
My favorite podcast is the ‘Off Menu’ podcast, with James Acaster and Ed Gamble, so they would have to be my dinner party guests. The concept is that James, as a genie, could magic up any food from anywhere at any time. I’d have my party like their podcast format so we could discuss it.
Gym or gin (or another guilty pleasure)
Probably gin. I love going for a drink with my friends at the pub round the corner from our house!