SCAN sat down with Lancaster University alumnus and 2008-2009 SCAN Editor, Dan Hogan, to talk about his time at university, running the student newspaper and how his life has progressed since.
SCAN went through a lot of changes while Dan Hogan was Editor but he didn’t get closely involved in the paper until relatively late. He had begun studying at the University in 2004, doing Philosophy and Politics, but only wrote a few articles for the paper while spending more time involved in Union politics and the Labour Party.
He became Fylde Magazine Editor in the same year, along with Tim Roca (who later become Fylde College President and LUSU President), who together attempted to make the magazine into a Fylde version of Private Eye – though with mixed results. Hogan became Chair of the Labour Club in his second year, before putting his degree on hold to work for the Labour Party itself as a Campaign Organiser. Returning in his final year, he decided to throw his hat in completely to run for SCAN Editor. He told us that he “thought there was a lot that SCAN could be doing better at the time. I wanted to shake things up.”
Several changes that Hogan had made to Lancaster student media nine years ago still remain in the SCAN you all know and love today. He introduced the Comment section that graces these pages as well as an editorial that our current Editor, Laura, still continues to write. The entire layout and how the paper presented itself was also completely rejuvenated, to look more like a conventional newspaper and fit more content.
“Some students complained that the new look was too similar to the Guardian. I took that as a compliment.”
The current logo used by SCAN on the front page of every issue was also designed by him.
One particular story which ran over several terms was about controversial changes to the college bars. At the time, the colleges ran the bars themselves, but the university wanted to bring them under direct control of University House. Alongside a campaign by student societies, Scan ran a series of critical stories about the plans. One front page story attacked the director responsible for the restructure, David Peeks, over his “poor” record of running the university’s other commercial services. Hogan remembers it well: “Peeks was incensed, and he threatened the paper but he made himself look ridiculous in the process.”
At the time the editorial team followed an investigation into the strange disappearance of rabbits from campus. SCAN members wondered whether the university were secretly culling them. At the time, there was quite a large presence of bunnies on campus – so much so that Pendle College even had a position on their JCR called ‘Keeper of the Bunnies’. One member of SCAN phoned the university pretending to be a pest controller, returning a call about getting rid of the rabbits, and the member of staff who took the call accidentally gave the game away. Hogan ran the story on the front page. Hogan told us that he “was astonished that nobody in the University press office complained about how we got the story”.
There were sometimes some ethical conundrums to being Editor, even in his first issue during Fresher’s Week 2008. He received several messages from readers regarding an article about a student who had tragically taken her life during the summer. Students questioned why it was printed in what could essentially be hundreds of students’ first view of the University as a whole. But the former editor stands by it: “We reported the story with sensitivity and respect. She was a student, a part of our community, and so people deserved to know. These issues shouldn’t be treated as taboo.”
The low point of his year was reporting on Roses. “It’s fair to say that I hadn’t given Sport as much attention as other sections of the paper, and we didn’t have enough experienced sports writers. Roses was in York that year, and only a small number of writers could get there.” Hogan himself covered the Rugby match without knowing any members of the team. After the match had finished and Lancaster had lost, Hogan interviewed the team captain without learning his name. This somehow worked its way into his final article as “Lancaster’s captain, [INSERT NAME], said…” which didn’t best please the rugby team – still pretty sore about losing their match, who sent an angry letter to the paper. He admits “that was embarrassing. It was definitely not my high point”.
Hogan has put his experience to good use since leaving Lancaster. After his year as Editor, he went on to work for various Labour MPs, before moving to Labour HQ in 2013. As part of the Policy Team, Hogan helped develop the Labour Party’s 2015 manifesto and communicate their policies through the media. He moved to Labour’s Governance and Legal Unit in 2016.
“I’m very proud of my time at Lancaster and on SCAN. The experience has stuck with me and been useful in everything I’ve done since.”