Given its status as a student newspaper, it is perhaps unsurprising that The Courier has always featured news. In the very early days this was mostly fairly non-controversial stuff, with reports of society meetings and new buildings opening on campus. Specific news editors were a rare breed in the 1940s and 50s – with little else in the paper, news was everyone’s responsibility.
Aside from a brief flirt with tabloid-style news in 1958-59, it wasn’t until 1962 that the Courier really started to ruffle feathers news-wise. Throughout the 1960s the paper reported on the goings-on of the University and Union, both good and bad – editors were even sacked for letting students know what their elected officers were really getting up to.
By the mid-1960s a dedicated news team was more common, although at any one point there could be between none and four news editors. Now the Courier started to report on news from other Newcastle colleges, and for a brief period in 1972 the paper was a collaboration between the University and the new Newcastle Polytechnic. News from other universities around the country was also included, often even on the front page – if it involved students, it could go in the Courier.
As the optimism of the 1960s gave way to the conflict of the 1970s, the news section was increasingly dominated by reports of violence and vandalism in the Union and of rent strikes, demonstrations and protests.
By the late 1970s things had calmed down and the Courier reverted to reporting mostly on society news and building-work, although there was still the occasional scoop. In the 1980s accommodation, and in particular the lack of it, became a recurring story, as did break-ins and muggings. Once again there were no section editors assigned to news, with news-gathering a collective Courier responsibility.
By the dawn of the 90s news editors had returned, bringing with them investigative journalism and a more aggressive approach to reporting. The cosy Courier-Union relationship was once again put to the test, with the paper facing censorship in 1990 over an article reporting on a pay rise for sabbatical officers. As the 90s wore on the paper became progressively more like a tabloid, with sensationalist reporting and the most shocking parts IN CAPITALS for extra effect.
The big issues of the 90s, according to the Courier, were carbon monoxide poisoning, meningitis, the introduction of semesters and modules to Newcastle, and Government changes to higher education, which included reform to student unions and the introduction of tuition fees. The Courier positioned itself as a campaigning paper that represented student voices, often in direct opposition to the University.
News from other Universities was now displayed less prominently, often in a small column of national news, although Durham and Northumbria could still find themselves on the Courier‘s front page.
News was written in a more serious style in the new millennium, while the shift to a broadsheet tone in 2008 meant more in-depth investigations and analysis. More recently the confrontational, campaigning journalism of the 1990s and 2000s has been gradually toned down to give more space to stories of student successes and University research.