If all goes well, Opus will soon be going in a direction that will see it flourish again.
The key obstacle in keeping Opus fresh, consistent and constantly churning out good content is the fact that the sole responsibility for the entire publication currently rests upon one person – the NUSA Media Officer. We’re talking writing, designing, producing, budgeting, editing, publication. Everything. This is all outlined in the NUSA Constitution. From our understanding, amendments have been made over the years to remove several other office-bearer positions who shared responsibility for meeting NUSA’s media needs and producing and promoting Opus.
This is simply too much for one student to do, and as long as the responsibility remains centralised, any attempt to revive Opus will be hopeless.
Despite the difficulties in keeping Opus consistent, the content produced has arguably been unmatched in quality and quantity for years. A successful website has been established, which allows rapid-fire commentary on student issues, and consistent coverage of music, film, events and gigs. This would not have been possible without the unwavering support of a core group of contributors in the NUSA Media Collective who believe in Opus’ mission – to provide political, critical, unbiased and relevant content to students in Newcastle.
Last year, in response to an issue with the leadership of the NUSA Women’s Collective, the NUSA Council resolved to compel student collectives to each adopt a Terms of Reference document. The documents provide sound governance and dispute resolution processes, as well as allowing the delegation of responsibility for key functions of the collective to elected members.
As it is not an autonomous collective, the NUSA Media Collective has not followed suit – until now. This week, the Media Collective adopted a Terms of Reference. The Terms of Reference establishes an Opus Editorial Board, which will see office-bearer positions created for several student editors.
These positions are:
- Deputy Editor;
- Events Editor (music, gigs, film);
- News Editor (news, politics, campus life);
- Design Editor (graphic design) and;
- Promotions Officer.
With the responsibility shared between several students – each with their own areas of expertise and interest – Opus has the potential to once again become a beacon of influence and student voice on campus. Decentralisation of Opus will allow the publication to become more independent of NUSA than it has been in the past, allowing for a truly unbiased advocate for student rights.
Students interested in music or entertainment journalism will have an opportunity to consistently interview bands, musicians, actors, directors and more.
Aspiring graphic designers will be able to design the print and online editions of a magazine that has been around since 1954.
Budding news journalists will be able to report on politics, student events and campus issues without having to worry about their work being vetoed or edited because it criticises the University or anybody else.
All students will hopefully come out of these roles with a great looking CV and management experience of a flagship publication.
As always, all students will be able to submit their work, their art and their viewpoints for publication in Opus – it will always be a collectivist platform for student voice.
Where to from here? Before we can start having students apply for these (elected) positions, we need to have the Terms of Reference approved by the NUSA Council. Once this happens, Opus will call for nominations, and will eventually hold a Special General Meeting of the NUSA Media Collective to elect these positions.
After that – we see what happens. Student media and student voice is important – it’s time to demonstrate that it is worth an investment of our time and the University’s money!
— Opus Magazine