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Type Monthly newspaper
Format Compact (Tabloid)
Owner(s) Reading University Students' Union
Founded 1934
Headquarters Reading University Students' Union Media Centre
Circulation 2,000

Spark* is the student newspaper of the University of Reading. It is produced monthly during term time (previously fortnightly) and is available as a paper edition distributed across University halls of residence, academic, and administrative buildings. The paper follows a traditional newspaper layout: the front portion of the newspaper is devoted to news issues, particularly those concerning students at the University.


Spark* was established in 1934 as The Shell, and varied considerably in design, style and quality with the change in the demographic of the University, the advancement in printing and editorial techniques, and the change in political orientation of the editorial team. In 1984, the newspaper changed format to a more magazine-style publication, rebranding itself as the short-lived Splat, before changing again to Spark* in 1988. Spark* reverted to a newspaper format in 1990, under the title Spark. At this point the newspaper was published weekly. In 2006 the then Reading University Students' Union (RUSU) President Dave Lewis took the decision to have Spark* published fortnightly, to reduce costs and to give the volunteer staff more time between issues whilst completing their degrees. This move coincided with a move to printing in full colour and the rebranding as Spark*.

In recent years, Spark* has been aiming to increase the quality of the newspaper, particularly following a scathing Independent article in 2005, where a former Varsity editor described Spark* as 'about as visually appealing as a punch in the retina'.[1] Since then, the newspaper has had a major redesign by University Typography and Graphic Communication students, and has upgraded its design software to Adobe InDesign CS3 thanks to a kind donation by the University's annual fund.

Recently, the newspaper has come under pressure from a rival newspaper.[2]


Spark* is frequently nominated by its editorial team for the Guardian Student Media Awards in a number of categories. 2010 was a particularly strong year for Spark*, beginning with two writers, Georgina Mills and Marcus Greenslade, winning first and second prizes respectively in Up to Speed's student journalism competition.[3][4]

In November 2010, Spark*'s music editor Kate Allen received the gong for best student writer at the Record of the Day Awards 2010, which recognise contributions to music journalism. Kate was heavily commended by the Guardian's Film and Music editor, Michael Hann.[5][6]


  1. ^ "Grant chequebook journalism pays off - Media, News". The Independent. 2005-03-28. Retrieved 2010-12-15. 
  2. ^ "Alumni and staff make record-breaking donations to Annual Fund - University of Reading". 2010-12-09. Retrieved 2010-12-15. 
  3. ^ "Student journalism update: Sky names Bob Friend Scholar, Up To Speed awards announced | Editors' Blog". 2010-02-04. Retrieved 2010-12-15. 
  4. ^ "Students have the Spark for journalism - News - getreading - Reading Post". getreading. 2010-03-24. Retrieved 2010-12-15. 
  5. ^ "Record of the Day". Record of the Day. 2010-11-26. Retrieved 2010-12-15. 
  6. ^ "Record of the Day". Record of the Day. 2010-12-02. Archived from the original on 2011-11-11. Retrieved 2010-12-15. 

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