Blog post

What it’s like to write for Phantom Media

Being a part of the Union of Students has rounded out my experience of studying my degree. I study Creative and Professional Writing with Film and Television Studies, and yes, it’s a mouthful! I wouldn’t change my course for the world but it does mean the subjects of my assignments can feel somewhat disjointed at times. That was until I found a stack of free newspapers at University, inspiring me to enquire about opportunities at Phantom Media.  Since then, the Union of Students has broadened my horizons, allowing me to express my love of writing and combine it with my passion for film through a platform that is viewed across the University.

By Owen Corkin - 29 May 2019

What do I get involved in?

I am a contributing writer for Phantom Media: the student-led news outlet providing opportunity to those looking to progress in TV, Radio and Journalism. Working in the humanities sector, my role entails conceptualising ideas for articles and following them through from drafting, to editing, to publishing. These articles are then featured on the Phantom Media blog and a select few are chosen for the quarterly printed publication The Phantom. The blog is a collection of student articles on a variety of topics ranging from political discussion, event announcements and entertaining editorials, which is the focus of most of my writing. Balancing my input with my coursework, I write film reviews and discussion articles that appeal to the reading students of the University.

How has the Union of Students affected my university experience?

Working with Phantom Media has opened up opportunities for myself as a writer working in the online world. It provides great experience to add to my LinkedIn profile, but it’s the flexibility that makes it perfect for a student. I write when I have time available between assignments, and as The Phantom is ran by a bunch of busy students there is no pressure to rush out a piece of work when deadlines are looming overhead.

From a social point of view, the Union has also helped me make a new group of friends: likeminded writers, editors and publishers. The experience has also given me the confidence to revamp my own personal blog that I had started to neglect during my first year of uni. It’s great to hear from your lecturers that your coursework is up to standard, but t’s even better to know that your peers feel your personal ideas and articles are of high quality.

I’ve also found that you get a lot more freedom working with a society than you do working with an external party. While my experiences with clients outside of the University have been positive, the society’s awareness of what life is like for a student has definitely helped in getting deadlines to work around my coursework. This flexibility has improved my time management skills tenfold and given me the chance to prioritise a variety of projects in a busy university timetable. Also, with today’s online world, I do most of the writing from the comfort of my flat!

Working with Phantom Media isn’t just good for my CV and making connections – it’s fun to write freely about topics that might seem juvenile to a stuffier outlet. I have a passion for animation so I wrote a review about the new animated Spider-Man film and it was a big hit! Sure, I wouldn’t submit it for any of my modules, but it’s a different audience and you’re advised to enjoy writing and have fun with the ideas you come up with.

My advice to future students before joining the Union of Students

In my first year, I was not as confident as I am now and the prospect of joining a society was a daunting one indeed. I would advise future students not to be as anxious as I was. My feelings were completely unfounded, as everyone was so supportive. All it took was for me to pick up a copy of the newspaper when I came across it on campus and send a simple email to the Head of the society – I began writing for them the same week!

At the end of the day, our societies are run by students and the gap between first and third year students is indistinguishable – we’re all one team working to inform and entertain our fellow students. Even if you’re worried about taking a step out of your comfort zone, there’s no harm in making your name known. The folks at Phantom Media have been incredibly welcoming and I am proud to promote what is published on their platform.

“I’ve been a part of Phantom for my entire time at university and this past year I’ve had the pleasure of running the paper. I’ve met a lot of talented like-minded people who have been wonderful to work with. It’s been great to get so involved with something and see it get amazing responses. University wouldn’t have been the same without Phantom.” – Reuben Burlingham, Head of Phantom Newspaper 2018/19.

About the author

Alex Ward talking at an Open Day

Owen Corkin
Joint Honours: Creative & Professional Writing/Film & TV Studies Student

I am an aspiring writer, published author and film reviewer in my third year studying a BA (Hons) in Creative Writing and Film Studies at the University of Derby. With a keen interest in world cinema and animated pictures, I have been writing articles on film since 2016.