Masthead for the Glasgow University Guardian newspaper

Looking good for 90!

This year, we’re celebrating 90 years of student journalism from the award-winning newspaper The Glasgow Guardian. The paper has seen some of our most illustrious alumni pass through its doors over the years as editors or writers, such as Scotland’s first First Minister, Donald Dewar (MA 1961, LLB 1964), Spectator Editor Fraser Nelson (MA 1995) and broadcaster Andrew Neil (MA 1971). Still published in print, it now has a prominent digital presence in 2022 as well.

The early years

Starting life on 10 October 1932 as The Gilmorehill Globe, the first of its five names, the paper led with the headline, “Breaking them in at Balmaha”, a look at the residential Freshers Camp that took place for incoming students every year. In its first year, the Globe started as it meant to go on by covering both local and global events, when two adjacent headlines on the same front page firstly revelled in “The Wildest and Maddest Daft Friday” and at the same time, warned: “A World Collapse Approaching”, referring to the world economic situation of the time. Always political and sometimes controversial, what many may not know about the paper is that it has also raised large amounts of money for charity, having held a dedicated week of fundraising each spring for many years.

Making the headlines

The Guardian has produced some memorable front pages highlighting issues of importance. The 1960s brought “Gagarin for Gilmorehill”, “University computer inaugurated” and “71% say ‘yes’ to mixed union”, while by the 1980s and ‘90s, “Students march against poll tax”, “Mandela runs for rector” and “Baby milk affair prompts Nestle ban” showed the issues that were occupying students’ thoughts at the time. More recently, extensive coverage of COP26 and interviews with Ukrainian students have also graced the Guardian’s front pages.

Getting the news out

The Thursday evening editorial meeting in the McIntyre Building is a longstanding tradition. The latest additions to the Guardian brand include a lifestyle section, video interviews and several podcast series, new this year.

"We’ve changed so much over the years, but there remain some key similarities: we are determined to hold people to account, whether that be the University, the SRC, or anyone else, while also retaining a bit of cheekiness that gives us our student feel. Lucy Dunn (MBChB 2022), Editor-in-Chief 2021-22

Newcomers Kimberley Mannion and Luke Chafer are proud to have been named Editors-in-Chief for the 2022-23 session. “Obviously, the role comes with a tremendous amount of pressure, with some high-profile former editors looming over us as we put together our first issue,” they say. “Our aim is to align The Glasgow Guardian with the modern media landscape both in print and online. We have a bold vision for the upcoming year, which promises to be a great one for the paper, as we celebrate with you all, on and off campus."

A good student newspaper will always demand accountability from a university, give useful insight to the institution’s culture and give aspiring journalists a platform to develop their skills. The Glasgow Guardian’s nine decades of journalism is a legacy that few other university papers can match.

Letter from the editor

Robin McKie as a student, taking a teabreak in the newsroom of the Guardian, 1972

Photo: Robin McKie in the Glasgow Guardian newsroom in 1972

Robin McKie (BSc 1972) is an award-winning journalist and author who is currently Science & Environment Editor of The Observer. He held the role of editor at the Glasgow University Guardian in the 1971-72 academic year, and counts his days working on the paper as some of the happiest in his life.

“Working at the Guardian just gave me the joy of being a journalist. It stretches back 50 years and it’s still a joy now. It was a privilege.“

I became editor of The Glasgow Guardian at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. I produced eight issues and on five of them, I sent people out to Belfast to report on it. I was trying to stop it being like an isolated little student campus, but rather, outward-looking and part of a bigger picture. I don’t remember other universities doing that. I wanted Glasgow itself to be in the paper, I didn’t want people forgetting they lived in this incredible city. So I was always writing pieces about things like the motorway network, which was coming into force at the time and was a disgrace, or the good tenements being knocked down.

I was always having battles about budgets, like any newspaper editor, and spending more than I should,but I don’t regret that. It helped that my then-girlfriend was a business manager for the paper, so I got away with it slightly! We were just given a free pass and wrote what we wanted. I imagine it’s harder now, probably more legal restraints.

One of my outstanding memories was the inauguration of [trade unionist and politician] Jimmy Reid as rector. He gave a speech that ended up being printed in The New York Times in its entirety. It was a stunning speech, one of the absolute high spots of the job that I remember. Producing a 12-page paper that went round the campus and you saw people reading, that was a fantastic experience. Realising that you could make a difference.”

This article was first published September 2022.

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Guardian memories: former editors reminisce

“Over my two years at the Guardian we covered everything from the Iraq war protests, to racist nightclub door policies, sex tourism in Vietnam, the illegal fireworks trade and a former CIA officer lecturing in the politics department. Our little team produced some really incredible journalism for a bunch of firsttimers and this was reflected by a large haul of national awards. Most importantly, we made friends for life. I’ve had an incredibly fun and rewarding career and none of it would have been possible without the training that the Guardian gave me.”
Ruaridh Arrow (MA 2004)
Then: News Editor 2002–04
Now: Journalist and film-maker

“My time at the GU Guardian was the most important and rewarding thing I did while at UofG. Since graduating, I have rarely been called upon to use my philosophy degree but the skills I started to learn as a student reporter have stood me in good stead for the last 15 years working as a journalist. The Guardian is a kind of sandbox where you can practise real-world journalism without getting yourself in too much trouble. When we were on deadline we’d hole up in the tiny office above the University gates for days on end, which would have been more comfortable had I not decided on a whim one night to paint it a migraine-inducing shade of orange. Getting a clean sweep at the Scottish Student Press Awards, including Best Newspaper, was a nice way to round off the year.”
Steve Dinneen (MA 2004)
Then: Editor 2004–05
Now: Journalist, City AM

“I co-edited the paper with Oliver Milne and we worked well together – while I was busy running the operations of the paper, he was a whirlwind of journalistic intent, always looking for the next big story. We managed to break some amazing news stories during our time, some of which were picked up by national newspapers – for example, the sexist heckling of two female students at a debate in the GUU in 2013. My experience at the Guardian has directly impacted my entire working life – I went on to work at a local paper and then moved into publishing, utilising many of the skills I honed as editor. I will be forever grateful that I could be part of the paper’s illustrious history.”
Dasha Miller (MA 2014)
Then: Co-editor 2012–13
Now: Project Manager