The 2011 elections saw Simon Murphy crowned the next Courier editor. Murphy won numerous prizes, at the Union’s student media awards and at the Guardian’s national version, but ultimately was too successful for The Courier. Having been awarded the prestigious Scott Trust Bursary to study an journalism Master’s at City University, Murphy made the difficult decision to resign as editor, just four days into the job. Faced with an unprecedented situation, the Union gave the job to the runner up in the election, sports editor (and one half of the first Courier blind date) Kat Bannon.
Bannon gave the design of the paper an update, including giving each culture section its own colour and resurrecting the pull-out idea, now called C2. A science section was also added. While the paper’s inspirations in the 1990s were The Sun and the Daily Mirror, The Courier was now modelled on The Guardian.
A more radical redesign followed after Christmas. A new, less austere masthead was introduced, and the C2 branding was dropped. But the main focus of Bannon’s tenure as editor was on sport.
A former sports editor, Bannon increased the size of the sports section to 10 pages a week, while the paper as a whole was now 48 pages. The 2012 Stan Calvert issue saw a total of 22 pages of sport, as part of a bumper 64-page edition of the paper. In her farewell editorial Bannon paid tribute to one of the sports editors, Colin Henrys, who also won an “outstanding contribution to The Courier” award at the end of year media awards.
Bannon’s successor, Ben Travis, reduced the sports section to a still-substantial eight pages, whilst also launching a beauty section and overseeing yet another redesign of the Courier website. Bannon and Travis’ changes were rewarded when The Courier won Best Publication at the Guardian Student Media Awards in 2012, and again in 2013 – the first time the paper had won since 1994.
When George Sandeman took over he reduced the size of the paper from 48 to a more manageable 40 pages, and replaced the features section with a system where each culture section would gain a feature page on rotation throughout the year. Since then the paper has fluctuated between 40, 44 and 48 pages in length, with a gaming section added in 2014 and a dedicated travel section returning three years later.
James Sproston was elected editor in 2017 and began to overhaul student media. With longstanding Courier contributor Mark Sleightholm he redesigned the paper, an effort which received a “special mention” at the Student Publication Association awards the following year. Sproston also improved relations between the paper and the other branches of student media, relaunched the Courier website and ensured that, for the first time in years, the paper was sent off to print on a Friday evening rather than a Sunday.
The 2017-18 academic year marked not only the 70th anniversary of The Courier but also the 20th anniversary of Newcastle Student Radio and 10 years of student television at Newcastle. The occasion was marked by a joint anniversary celebration event, and a long-awaited refurbishment of the Courier office.