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Focus on Pi Newspaper with politics editor Asa Bennett

This week we catch up with Asa Bennett, politics editor of Pi Newspaper, the official student newspaper of University College London.

About the publication:

Who reads it and how many of them are there?
As the official student newspaper of University College London, we are widely read among the 22,000 students here!

What subjects do you cover? What stories are you most interested in covering?
Pi Newspaper covers a variety of subjects in its catering for students at UCL – we offer special sections on news relevant to them, sharp political analysis, interesting special features and science pieces, sports and culture. We normally go for stories that are unique, relevant and engaging for our student readership.

What makes you different from the other student publications?
The variety of things we cover, our sharpness and wit we bring to each piece while still being highly readable and fun.

How do you decide the content and headlines?
It depends on whatever is happening at the time and would be most relevant to our audience, for example, when some students set up an occupation recently on UCL campus, we provided extensive comment, analysis and debate of what was happening.

Do you use freelance contributions, and if so, are they for any particular section/type of work?
We always aim to get contributions from anyone at UCL as it’s a publication by students, for students – although we don’t go for freelancers as we lack the funds.

About you and student writers:

Do you like student writers to get in touch with you directly to pitch ideas? And if so, how?
Of course we welcome interest from anyone keen to contribute. They normally get in touch via email or attend our weekly editorial meetings in our office.

Name the three most important attributes that make a writer stand out for you and would make you use them again?
Enthusiasm, creativity and reliability.

About PRs:

Do you ever work with PRs (e.g. for supplements, round tables, events)/do you plan to in the future?
Not at the moment.

How should a PR approach you about their client?
Get in touch! Look us up or email our advertising officer direct at –

What information/input from PRs is most useful to you?
The more the better.

When is the best time for PRs to contact you & what is your deadline for contributions?
During waking hours…! Otherwise we’re flexible, but you may need to factor our monthly publishing deadlines.

About you:

Describe a typical day at work: What are your editorial duties/responsibilities at the outlet (e.g. commissioning, subbing, features, interviewing)?
My duties have spanned commissioning people to write articles, helping out in subbing and designing, organising features and doing interviews to feature in the paper. Also on top of that, I help man the online politics blog. It is a fair thing to fit in with university life and studying but everyone else on the paper is in the same situation, so they all help each other out!

What interests you most about your job?
It would have to be the chance to do something always exciting and ever-changing, the fun of seeing your work in print and enjoyed by many around the university.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
In journalism or anything media-related hopefully!

Do you Twitter? Why, why not?
I do, I find it incredibly useful to find out what people are talking about, to get swift access to the news, and be able to pass instant commentary – I’m available at @asabenn.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
It’s not advice that I’ve been given but instead read, Matthew Parris saying the first thing he does when writing is to keep in mind :
“What’s your argument?” It is always the first question and if you hold onto that like you would hold onto the mast of a ship in a storm, you’ll always get through.

What media do you seek out 1st thing in the morning?
Usually I read the newspapers online over a cup of tea, with a quick check of blogs and Twitter for extra up-to-date news.

[img|jpg|Asa Bennett]