In conversation with The Bristorian

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By Roya Shahidi, Co-Deputy News Editor

With their first print issue coming out today, Epigram speaks to Callum MacGregor, the 2021/22 editor of The Bristorian, to find out more about this fast-growing, student-led publication.

Firstly, what exactly is The Bristorian?

The Bristorian is Bristol's essential humanities magazine. Throughout the year we've researched and covered topics spanning politics, economics, arts, film, and of course history. At the start of this year, we were but a parochial history blog, now I would hazard that we're at the forefront of Bristol's journalistic pursuits. We've published close to 100 articles this year and endeavoured to promote liberation campaigns across the board, documenting black, women's, disability & LGBTQ+ history months, as well as Holocaust Memorial Day, with a series of considered and insightful pieces - all thanks to our contributors.’

What is the aim of it?

‘Our primary aim is to contextualise today's world through the lens of the past, whatever the topic happens to be. Personally, I believe, as does our team, that the instantaneous nature of today's communication is a serious threat to the proper consideration of current affairs. I'd suggest today's political and public sphere is as toxic as it's ever been and that this has in large part been caused by social media and its perverse business incentives. Such platforms are incentivised to retain their audience by prioritising posts that incite such emotions. Not only does that create a hostile social environment, but it reduces public discourse to as many slurs and exaggerations as can be contained within 280 characters.

‘The Bristorian seeks to provide a small antidote to what I perceive as a parasitic defect of our society. It is only through considering our past that we can even begin to understand our present, let alone debate it. By discussing the past in relation to the present, we unlock perspectives that are sorely missing from today's discourse; in a format far removed from the insidious confines set by tech overlords.’

What have been the some of the best highlights of working on The Bristorian this year?

‘I'm hoping the highlight will be the launch party! We effectively started from scratch back in September, so publishing a print version celebrating the highlights of this year's output will be a great marker of our progress. Being promoted by the SU in relation to our liberation campaigns and simply having our articles read is highlight enough - though if we were to receive a positive response to the print magazine I would honestly be ecstatic.’

Have there been any challenges?

‘Certainly. As I say, barring the website, we basically started from scratch this year. We had to build an editorial team, define our goals, source contributors, and generate a consistent output of articles, all within the first few weeks of TB1. From that point, it's been a case of consolidating our social media presence and building upon those foundations we set in September. The next big challenge came when we decided to create the inaugural print edition. I think only one of the team had ever had experience of putting a magazine to print, so clearly it was going to be a pretty big task.’

What can we expect from the launch party?

‘The launch party will be held on Thursday 5 May (today), 18:30-20:30 in 7 Woodland Road! Courtesy of our sponsors, we were able to fully cover the costs of printing and will be handing out the magazines at the door! As well as free magazines, Gale (our official sponsor) have donated power banks, playing cards, tote bags and thermos flasks for us to give away. The History Department have also kindly donated wine and snacks for attendees of the event. We're going for a soirée feel, with a bit of smooth jazz playing in the background - so prepare yourself for elegance, freebies, and sumptuous conversation, all accompanied by Bristol's signature humanities magazine.’

Do you have any advice for people wanting to get involved with the magazine?

‘Our email address is thebristorian@gmail.com, so simply get in touch! We've basically drawn our output to a close this year - though next year's editor-in-chief Hope Talbot will be looking to build a team of sub-editors and contributors as we speak, so if you’re interested make sure to let us know. Our current team of sub-editors didn't necessarily have much experience of editing beforehand. What they did convey was a passion for considered and thoughtful journalism, as well as a resolve to work hard and mobilise towards a vision of a better society. So, if you wanted to be on next year's editorial team that's what I'd suggest you emphasise in your interview.’

Any final words!

‘Just that I hope to see you this evening! We've been able to print the magazine on top-quality paper, so your copy will be very much for you to keep far beyond today. We have an interview with the legendary Professor Ronald Hutton, crosswords, polls, and many brilliant articles covering the vast range of topics I outlined in the first question. We want The Bristorian to become something that Bristol students cherish - so become a part of that community and come along tonight!’

Featured Image: The Bristorian


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