SCAN (newspaper)

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Lancaster University
SCAN Logo.png
Front page on 14 June 2015
Type Fortnightly newspaper
Format Compact
Owner(s) Lancaster University Students' Union
Publisher Trinity Mirror
Editor Bethany Crow
Founded June 1967
Language British English
Headquarters Lancaster University, Bailrigg, Lancaster, LA1 4YT
Country United Kingdom
Readership 7,340 (fortnightly)[a]

SCAN: Student Comment and News is a multi-award-winning student newspaper at Lancaster University. It publishes during term time in print, and throughout the year online. SCAN was founded in 1967, making it one of the longest-running student publications in Europe, and is now managed by the Lancaster University Students' Union (LUSU).[1]


First abbreviated from Student, College, and Administrative News, SCAN began in June 1967 as a one-page newsletter printed 500 times on carbon copy paper by the staff at Lancaster, one month before the university’s first graduation ceremony. The founding edition was a folio-sized transcript of the latest decisions made by the Student Representative Council (SRC), produced at a grand cost of £6.5s.3d.[2]:101 In 1973, shortly after gaining enough money to open its first sabbatical position, the SRC began designating editors for the growing publication. Two years later, the SRC was rebranded as the Lancaster University Students’ Union, and editor itself became an elected sabbatical role. SCAN’s growth quickly began to outpace that of LUSU’s finances. Though the paper charged up to £400 to design and display a single advert, the union was forced to request a 20% increase in its share of university revenue in 1979 to continue printing.[2]

Under elected leadership, SCAN began to distance itself from LUSU for the sake of political and operational independence. Its slogan changed from “The Lancaster University Students’ Union Newspaper” to simply “The Voice of Lancaster University Students”. It also moved to its own campus headquarters in Slaidburn House in 1997, to which it would return in 2014.[2] SCAN underwent perhaps its greatest changes, however, in the late 2000s and early 2010s. In 2008, editor Dan Hogan relaunched the paper as Student Comment and News, maintaining the original acronym while strengthening its brand culture. A year later SCAN switched publisher from Central Lancashire Printers to Trinity Mirror, going colour from cover to cover on 100% recycled paper. In 2010 the paper joined the Lancaster University ‘joint student media initiative’ sharing its membership, facilities, and coverage more closely with LA1:TV and Bailrigg FM, and editor Lizzie Houghton introduced arts & lifestyle section Carolynne as “SCAN’s stylish, more lighthearted sister”.[3] The section is named after an older publication at Lancaster, founded in 1964 and rated second only to the magazines in Oxford, which publication was in turn named by Bowlander William Smethurst after his girlfriend, Carolynne Harmsworth.[4] Most recently, in 2013, Rachel May Quin became SCAN’s first non-sabbatical editor. The position is now open to, and elected by, members of the joint student media initiative only, further improving the newspaper’s independence but resulting in a 97.3% drop in editorial election turnout from 2010 to 2015.

The logo of SCAN in 1976.
The logo of SCAN in 1985.
The logo of SCAN in 1994.

For much of its history SCAN was not Lancaster University’s only student newspaper. It overlapped with historical titles like Carolynne and John O’Gauntlet, which provided far more comical, scandalous, and pointed coverage of student life at Lancaster but disappeared in 1971 and 1972 respectively.[2]:87-107 In 1993 a short-lived parody of the paper, Self-Centred Arrogant Nonsense, was circulated around campus, and in 2012 a more elaborate imitation, SCAM: Student Comment and Moos, was “stealth-distributed” on the printers in the university library and online at More serious rivals in 2012 included The Whistleblower, which claimed to be “Lancaster University’s Only Independent Student Newspaper”, and Fritz, a high-tech magazine run by members of the Management School. Both ran on a platform of true political independence from LUSU, but neither could sustain the funds for more than four editions.[5] SCAN now competes for readers with internet tabloid The Tab Lancaster and the Lancaster Despatch Box, a blog run with the Department of Politics, Philosophy, and Religion, both of which enjoy more national media connections than SCAN.[6][7]. There were also college based newspapers, of which probably the most significant was Pendle Witch, which in the mid 1970s emerged from the new Pendle College and was the base for a serious challenge to the Students Union by an anti-establishment group. Ironically, its leader was Bob Lawrence who was then elected as editor of SCAN.

Since 1967 SCAN has claimed many journalistic achievements. It has worked with the police to gather information on crime and delivered breaking news on Parliamentary scandals and national strikes.[8][9][10] Every year the SCAN sports team reports live and in detail on the largest intervarsity sports tournament in Europe, and the number of students reading SCAN’s criticisms of voter turnout in university-wide sabbatical elections is often greater than the turnout itself.[11][12] SCAN has also interviewed MPs, cabinet ministers, NUS presidents, and such diverse names as Owen Jones, Ian Hislop, James May, Simon Bird, Rolf Harris, and the Kaiser Chiefs. A complete archive of SCAN is kept in refrigeration beneath the university library.


SCAN is run by students at Lancaster University and is managed by student-led company LUSU. It has the conflicting tasks of entertaining and informing the students of Lancaster while giving its writers a low-stakes environment in which to develop, and of voicing student opinion while constantly and speculatively testing it. Unlike most student societies at Lancaster, SCAN is a constitutional part of the union. LUSU’s Vice President for Campaigns & Communications has ultimate control over SCAN’s content, but the editor is able to influence union policy from a permanent seat in LUSU Council. In order to contribute regularly to the paper, a person must become a member of SCAN by paying £3 to the joint student media initiative. The editor is the budget holder and spokesperson of SCAN, and is elected each year from the membership at SCAN’s summer AGM. The remainder of SCAN’s executive, including the heads of photography, web, and mobile, the production team, and the eight sections editors, are selected from the membership at the discretion of the editor. Section editors may select a deputy and can remove the editor with a vote of no confidence.[13]

2,000 copies of the newspaper are distributed in ‘bins’ around campus every other Monday morning.[14] SCAN does not charge for its papers or advertise for external companies, and has no formal political sympathies. Its editorial stance varies significantly from year to year and its opinion pieces demonstrate wide internal pluralism, sometimes to the point of being combined into contrived and supererogatory ‘head-to-head’ articles.[15] However, SCAN’s legal and financial dependence on the students’ union has often brought its true political independence into question. On 23 November 2015, the union censored a cartoon in SCAN about a failed LUSU referendum on whether to divest from Israeli companies.[16] To avoid such situations SCAN editors often try to build working relationships with union representatives, though it is not unusual for a leading candidate for Vice President to be incapable of naming the editor in the first place.[17]

SCAN Online

The newspaper’s website, SCAN Online, was launched in 2001. It hosts articles from print editions and web-only content. Almost 100% of SCAN’s budget is spent on print, and the site is considered a cheaper, simpler, and faster way of breaking news. Editor Rachel Harvey predicted in 2012 that SCAN would have to revert to monthly printing or move entirely onto the website. Since then publication frequency has not changed, but the number of pages per edition has declined.[18] The site is regularly redesigned and has gained photo, video, and live blogging capabilities. SPINE was introduced as a new online section in October 2013 to host GIF- and meme-based listicles in the hope of producing viral content. The site crashed several times in 2014-5, meaning further sections and features could not be introduced until SCAN Online was completely renovated. The current version came online in October 2015.

Notable contributors

  • Louis Barfe, author, journalist, and research consultant
  • Niall Couper, Head of Media at Amnesty International
  • Adam Cumiskey, Editor of the Today programme
  • John Freeman, comic writer and designer
  • Warren Nettleford, BBC producer and Channel 5 reporter
  • Jeremy Oppenheim, Ministerial Director of Growth & External Engagement
  • Amy Raphael, journalist and biographer
  • Dave Shackleton, music journalist, Vice President of Sony
  • David Watson, Head of Campaigns for Downing Street
  • Toby Cooke, Carolynne Editor


Year Award Nomination Result
2002 Guardian Student Media Reporter of the Year Jon Colman Won
2004 Guardian Student Media Website of the Year Runner up
2004 Guardian Student Media Critic of the Year Alex Boekestyn Runner up
2005 Guardian Student Media Critic of the Year Howard Mustoe Shortlisted

See also


  1. ^ This is the number of print and online readers combined. The online part is the number of unique visitors tracked on the website; the print figure is calculated from the number of papers not returned each fortnight, multiplied by the average number of readers per paper as estimated by the Circulation Verification Council 2014 readership study.


  1. ^ "About Us". SCAN. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d McClintock, Marion (2011). Shaping the Future: A History of the University of Lancaster 1961-2011. Lancaster: Lancaster University. ISBN 9781862202863.
  3. ^ "Who is Carolynne?". SCAN. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  4. ^ "About Us: Campus Life". Lancaster University. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  5. ^ "#87". Subtext. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  6. ^ "Join The Tab Lancaster". The Tab. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Lizzie Roberts' Profile". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  8. ^ "Appeal for Witness". SCAN. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  9. ^ "Former Lancs MP Denies Signing Fees Pledge". SCAN. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  10. ^ "Breaking News: UCU Says 'Yes' to Strike Action". SCAN. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  11. ^ "Roses Live 2016". LUSU. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  12. ^ "The Problem with Student Democracy". SCAN. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  13. ^ "Schedule D, Bye Law 16" (PDF). LUSU Constitution. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  14. ^ "Student Media". A Day in the Life: The Lancaster University Student Blog. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  15. ^ "Head-to-Head: Subway Should Have a Branch on Campus". SCAN. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  16. ^ "Censored: Cartoon on BDS Referendum Blocked by LUSU". SCAN. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  17. ^ "The Husts". FTO Elections 2015. 1 March 2015. 01:55:24 minutes in. LA1:TV.
  18. ^ "Quin for the Win". SCAN. Retrieved 22 June 2016.

External links

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