Impact Magazine: A History

With the theme of the next print edition being ‘time’, it seems like a good idea to have a look at the history of Impact Magazine itself, and reflect on all it has achieved and overcome.

Firstly, a little bit of background on the grand old institution which allowed Impact to exist in the first place. The University of Nottingham’s own history can be traced back to 1798, where it was an adult education school for the University of London. Almost a century later it became the more recognisable University College Nottingham in 1881, before being granted a royal charter in 1948. In the 1920s, it expanded significantly, and moved to what is now University Campus. It was this expansion, which brought land and benefactors to the university, that allowed for more student-focused things, like the Students’ Union, to form.

“The Students’ Union was originally a cycling club”

While the Students’ Union was originally a cycling club which arrived in the 1880s, the earliest signs of a union which represented a wider student focus was The Gong. Though not an earlier version of Impact itself, it was the first regular student-led publication, founded in 1895. The Gong was a literary pamphlet, which contained within it stories, poems, and literary reviews written by the student volunteers. This pamphlet was more a creative outlet for students rather than a reportative or investigative entity, but by 1939, The Gongster arrived. This was a newspaper to rival The Gong, and not a pamphlet, and is what led to what you are reading now!

It was the outbreak of World War II which led to the first issues faced by The Gongster. As the United Kingdom faced increased paper shortages, the magazine was suspended not only to save paper, but due to a lack of funding for these kinds of student productions. The rationing strategies of the time meant that the Students’ Union at the university had to restrict the amount of money that was given to societies, including the student-led paper.

“Bias would only last five years, before it was transformed into something more recognisable, and renamed Impact”

The impact (excuse the pun) of the war was long-lasting, but by 1974, the paper arose like a metaphorical phoenix from the ashes, finally selling 100% of its printed copies. This success continued until the 1980s, when the paper was deemed ‘stodgy’ and renamed as Bias. This new look and title brought with it a new design and focus, despite still being a newspaper. However, Bias would only last five years, before it was transformed into something more recognisable, and renamed Impact.

At the time, Impact was still largely self-funded, selling each issue for ten pence (approximately 30p today). Soon after, it changed format again, becoming a magazine, a move which allowed for an increase in page numbers, a wider array of sections, and a larger focus on more eye-catching designs. It has thrived as a creative and critical magazine, published regularly during term time.

Impact turned seventy years old on 2009, the same year it released its 200th issue. It is a free, fully-coloured, 64-page magazine run by students, for students. It has six sections led by a full-time team of over thirty students, circulating 1500-2000 copies with each issue, a significant increase from the pamphlet of the early 1900s. What has not changed, however, is its dedication to students and their stories.

“It is still the only 100% student-led magazine in the country”

Now, Impact is a multi-award winning publication, recognised for its content, writers, design, and website. With hundreds of articles published each year, it is still the only 100% student-led magazine in the country, and features the talents of a hardworking team and the voices of countless student contributors. The history of Impact is a long and winding one, and we can only hope that its future will be too.

Esme Johnson

Featured image courtesy of Matt Buck via Flickr.  No changes were made to this image. Image license found here

Follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page for more articles and information on how to get involved.


Leave a Reply