Marlow’s Indefinite Search for Novelty: An interview with PULP’s new Senior Editor

Alex Dent and Kaela Goldsmith sat down with Marlow Hurst the incoming Senior Editor of the newly revamped PULP.

If you haven’t heard already, campus journalist extraordinaire Marlow Hurst has been announced as the incoming Senior Editor of the USU’s publication, PULP. This new role will see Hurst supervising PULP’s rebranding as both a physical and online media outlet. He’ll be leading a recently-selectd editorial team, which will comprise of Nandini Dhir, Harry Gay, Ariana Haghighi, Bonnie Huang, Patrick McKenzie and Rhea Thomas.

PULP has spent the first few years of its existence as an online news site, reporting on campus events, discussing pop culture, and putting together some fantastic listicles. But following the discontinuation of the USU’s previous publication, BULL, six years ago, a desire for a new physical publication on campus has been felt. Citing the New Yorker and Frankie Magazine as inspiration, PULP has defined their new print magazine as an “opportunity to explore and showcase modern art, politics, comedy, literature, photography, fashion, and contemporary student life.

Hurst was punctual to our date at campus food outlet Taste, dressed to the nines and sporting a jazzy pin that read ‘DON’T PANIC’. We, two tiny first-years, still panicked, but his charisma and bubbly nature broke through our panicked defences and made the following conversation all the easier…

SURG: Congratulations on being named Senior Editor of PULP! We’d love to start off by having you tell us a little bit about yourself, including any fun facts you’d like to share.

Marlow Hurst: I study Media and Communications, and Politics. I started writing for student publications in 2019 with the original PULP Media, and then Honi Soit in 2020. I’ve been writing for both ever since, and I edited Honi in 2021. Some fun facts about me? There’s technically a microwave named after me in the Bevery in the Holme Building because of my endeavour to get heated muffins at Courtyard Cafe – probably one of my proudest achievements on campus. 

Before we delve into the focus of this interview – the new and improved PULP – we wanted to know, what do you personally enjoy reading? This can be books, magazines, blogs – whatever you’d like!

I love the New Yorker – greatest magazine out there. I’ve got a club dedicated to the New Yorker (to some extent) with Ariana Haghighi. I love The Guardian, The Conversation, fantasy and sci-fi novels. Of course, I love Honi Soit and some predecessors to PULP like BULL – Hermes as well, which was to be the oldest literary journal in Australia. Sadly, in December 2017, it was semi-shut down-slash-merged with creative awards so it turned into a sort of ‘Frankenstein’s Monster’. I also love other student publications across Australia, like On Dit in South Australia and Farrago. Those are a lot of my inspirations – I think I just put a lot of stock in novelty and imagination because, you know, in the internet age there is just so much competition for people’s eyeballs and brains that you can’t be doing anything remotely similar to what everyone else is doing. You’ve got to be pursuing some form of novelty, and that means going outside the box in every way possible. 

In Honi Soit’s article about your new role, you mentioned an appreciation for a more “varied” writing style? Could you explain what you meant by this? 

Wait, I’m not talking in the sort of Year 10 English teacher way where they say for creative writing, “Do a recipe! Break out of the box there!” I just think that PULP is so uniquely positioned to do more with genre and content, [and] less so with format in a lot of ways. Of course, there’s going to be a greater emphasis on culture, art, comedy and campus life – that sort of thing, but I think what PULP can do differently is going to be all about how it looks in print and what it privileges. I want this to be a design-first publication which really endeavours to look as beautiful as possible. I want to make sure that all articles connect with one another and that there’s a coherent theme throughout the publication – that the design on the page connects with the content of the article itself. I believe that novelty should be pursued at all costs – no matter the price.

What sort of content do you envisage for the new print magazine? 

Recently we’ve decided that we will probably do 48 pages in an edition which gives us a lot of room and a lot of space. [It’s] almost double what Honi’s page count usually is. What that means is that we can do more longform [articles], more features. We can do more full page art – a greater emphasis on photography and on featuring exclusively visual content. The space means we can delve into topics more deeply and really focus on design. 

Your predecessor, BULL, had a design team led by the USU. Are you planning to follow in their footsteps, or will you opt for a more student-led situation? 

PULP will be published in coordination with USU marketing, but above all this is going to be a student-led endeavour. I think we are very capable of doing design in-house, but we will definitely collaborate with the USU’s team. 

PULP’s website covers a wide array of topics. Will you be narrowing the magazine’s focus in its print form, or will you attempt to include a similarly broad range of interests?

I think it will maintain that broad appeal. Something that PULP can and should do is represent as many areas of culture and campus as possible. Also, on the topic of the online publication, it will be maintained. There will still be online content, but there will be a greater focus on video and audio, vox pops, interactive content – that sort of thing. Everything that can’t be done in the print publication will be online, and there will be some room for news and some room for just generic articles as well. 

With university publications, it can often seem that only a small group of contributors are the ones consistently having their work published. This can prevent many first years and first-time writers from getting involved. Are you planning on trying to create more opportunities for new/first-time contributors?

PULP will definitely have a big presence at Semester 2’s ‘Welcome Week’. I think that’s going to be really important for getting contributors, especially first year students and first-time contributors. I agree that student publications can sometimes be cliquey, or at least they can sometimes seem cliquey. I think by and large student publications take all kinds, but on the outside it really can seem like the same people week after week writing the same things. I really want myself and the future editors to really work with contributors to foster their writing and even foster their capacity to edit. I think the USU is so uniquely positioned, because it has this massive clubs and societies infrastructure. PULP can kind of tap into that in a lot of ways to make sure that we’re reaching every section of campus and every year level at university. 

BULL was scrapped in favour of PULP due to an apparent ‘underwhelming readership’ and the convenience of online publication. In what ways will the new print magazine combat these issues?  

I think that the focus on design-first publications will really catch the eye of the reader. It’s all about hooking people in just so that they open that first page and keep on reading. We’re thinking of integrating stands into USU outlets to foster a culture of eating and drinking AND reading PULP magazine. We’re trying to tap into that cafe culture. I’m not entirely privy to the issues of BULL, as I wasn’t here for [it], but I am a big admirer of BULL in a lot of ways. We will also aim to distinguish ourselves from Honi. That will look like distinguishing our stands and making sure our actual editions look different. I don’t want to make it seem like it is this ‘PULP vs. Honi’ Battle of the Ages – it’s all about PULP finding its readership on campus and not really trying to do what has already been done. I think PULP found its voice in listicles and quizzes. That one about ‘Which Ice Cream Shop in Newtown are you?’ –  that sparked a lot of joy for a lot of people on campus, I think. [But] I don’t want PULP to go back to the listicle quizzes, I want PULP to find its own voice, its own unique voice in the student media landscape of the university.

How would the actual application process work for students who want to get involved with PULP?

During welcome week at the start of Sem 2, we’ll have some sort of Google Form, similar to Honi – I mean, if it ain’t broke, why fix it? It’ll just be gauging what you’re interested in, what you like to write, what your availability is. We’ll definitely be creating reporter groups on Facebook, creating specific editor groups for each editor, having contributor events so that we can catch up with contributors. Ideally, we’ll also be working with clubs and societies to get the word out and get them to push that message to gain as many contributors as possible because, at least from my experience, really only 10% of contributors contribute. We also want to make sure that they understand that it’s no strings attached. It’s not a huge commitment, it’s just an opportunity. It’s an avenue of communication. And of course, if people want to message the page, if people want to email us, if you wanna message me, or other editors, or other contributors, they’ll be more than welcome to. 

Our final question – potentially the most important of them all: As President of the Cartoon Caption Contest Club, will you be including any opportunities for student involvement in the form of a caption contest?

A soft ‘yes’. Hopefully, the other editors are very receptive to the idea of a cartoon caption contest, and from what I can tell, everyone I’ve spoken to at the USU would be amenable to a cartoon caption contest. So, it’s looking a lot like there might be a cartoon caption contest.

To keep updated with PULP magazine be sure to follow them on Instagram (@pulp.usu) and their Facebook page. Also be sure to keep an eye out for a PULP stall next semester during Welcome Week to find out more!

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