Happy Birthday Cherwell

27 Jul 2020

QUAD offers its heartiest congratulations to Cherwell, the student newspaper that claims to be the only truly independent one in the UK. In November, it’ll be a case of ‘Happy Birthday’ at the grand age of 100. Yes, we can’t quite believe it either.

Cherwell was conceived by two Balliol College students, Cecil Binney and George Adolphus Edinger, on a ferry from Dover to Ostend during the summer vacation of 1920. The early newspaper had a radical voice. Edinger recalled, ‘We were feeling for a new Oxford...We were anti-convention, anti-Prewar values, pro-feminist. We did not mind shocking and we often did.’

The Isis Magazine is older having begun in 1892, but Cherwell bought it in the 1990s. What is incredible about Cherwell’s longevity is that it has seemed to defy the law of physics for newspapers as business models. Not only has it always been independent of the University, but more significantly independent of the student union.

In most cases student newspapers have a union to cushion a bad advertising revenue month. Cherwell is still entirely independent: staffed and managed by students, who appoint their own directors and editors, and also who raise all the advertising revenues.

How it managed to avoid a ruinous libel scandal beats us, but perhaps it’s down to the incredible list of Cherwell contributors. Merely the first four listed in the Wiki entry are, remarkably: Edward Heath, Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene and John Betjeman.

Anyway, one of its many editors Nick Perry (Univ, 1974) says there’ll be a monster party in London and another one in Oxford, hopefully in November or as soon as the pandemic permits.

The operational note seems to be that Cherwell will be online for Trinity and hopefully back to normal for Michaelmas – we wish the editors well in surmounting the COVID crisis, a nightmare for the media.

Until then Nick is mounting a concerted effort to contact Cherwell alumni and other contributors to sister publications such as ISIS, Oxford Scientist / Bang and fashion mag Industry. Go to www.OSPLalumni.com.

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