Tab Tries: Writing For The Tab

CLAUDIA LEONG writes for the Tab, and is ostracised for it.

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Last week I had the painful experience of sitting alone with my supervisor in his office, waiting for the rest of the group to arrive. We had exhausted all possible conversation on the weather and he felt he had complained about his ex-wife for long enough, so he asked me what extracurriculars I was involved in. When I replied that I wrote for The Tab, his eyebrows shot so far up his forehead that they almost blended into his (receding) hairline. I tried not to roll my eyes as he muttered about that being ‘interesting’. We both knew what he was thinking—she writes for The Tab, no wonder she always asks stupid questions in seminars.

I encountered a similar situation on a swap the other day. I was making small talk with my ‘date’ and he was at that point of intoxication where there’s no longer any filter between what you think and what you say. ‘I write for The Tab,’ I said, after he asked me if there were any societies I was involved in. ‘Oh,’ he replied. ‘Isn’t that the low-brow version of Varsity?’ Suffice to say, I didn’t give him my number.

Forget land economists, it seems like the most reviled people around Cambridge are the ones who write for The Tab. In many ways, Tab writers are treated like we suffer from an STD. People won’t explicitly insult them, but rumours are everywhere. If you’ve got an STD, you wouldn’t tell someone you’d just met about it. It’s much the same if you write for The Tab. Nobody wants to ride with chlamydia-ridden Clive, and people don’t trust Tab columnists, because in both cases they worry about having nasty things said about them. Tabloid journalism gets a bad rep. Never mind sensationalist headlines printed in the Daily Mail accusing the Tab of being exploitative and utterly immoral, lots of people around Cambridge automatically assume that writers for The Tab are bored arts students with no friends and too much time on their hands. While that’s true to some degree, it doesn’t follow that we’re Murdoch’s minions-in-training.

What the Mail thinks of us

Still, I’m not complaining. We may not have a fancy office at the New Museum Site that’s plonked right next to the Students’ Union. But unlike our competitors, The Tab plan their weekly content in a pub with the editors sitting around drinking pints. At four in the afternoon. If there’s anything that sums up the paper’s attitude, this might be it. Read the comments section on a randomly selected article from this website and compare it to the comments from a more ‘serious’ student paper. Comments on The Tab are wittier, have a sharper sense of humour, and nobody apologises for what they say. In fact, compared to Cambridge’s other examples of student journalism, students actually read The Tab. It’s just better fun.

Where all the fun happens – Thursdays at 4pm

People dismiss this paper as a silly source of procrastination and claim it’s superficial and insubstantial. Even the logo reminds you of the Sun. How awful. How scurrilous. But there’s really no basis for discriminating against The Tab apart from a snooty sense of intellectual snobbery. Let’s face facts. You’re on this website and you’re reading it now. We’re coming up to Week 5, the work is mounting and sometimes you just need to have something to laugh at. You love The Tab and you know it.