Pelican (magazine)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Type Student newspaper
Format Magazine
Owner(s) University of Western Australia Student Guild
Founded 1929
Language English
Headquarters Perth, Australia
Website UWA Guild publications

Pelican is the University of Western Australia's student magazine. It is financed by the UWA Guild, but maintains complete editorial independence. 2000 copies of each issue are published and distributed across metropolitan Perth, as well as to Notre Dame, Murdoch, Curtin, ECU, and Central TAFE. It is Australia's second oldest student paper, having begun publication in 1929.[1]

Pelican is published 8 times a year, roughly coinciding with each month of semester at the University of Western Australia. In 2015, it launched its new website to achieve dual platform status. Easily distinguishable by its satire and professional design, Pelican has a readership of around 10,000 per edition[citation needed] and is aimed at Perth's tertiary students and young people aged between 17 and 27 frequenting the inner metropolitan area.[1] Each edition is centred on a theme and includes regular reviews (books, music, television, film, and arts), opinion pieces, campus events listing, and current affairs analysis.


Founded in 1929, Pelican lays claim to being the country's second-oldest student newspaper, after Farrago. Originally, Pelican took the form of a weekly current affairs broadsheet. It then evolved into a monthly newspaper, and was later transformed into a "tabloid" sized magazine by editor Elizabeth Shaw. In 2007, Magda Wozniak introduced a glossy cover which continued throughout 2008 as well as the first edition of 2009. Due to the 2009 recession, Pelican was forced to revert to a newspaper print cover.

It has become an ongoing tradition that the Pelican editor appears naked on the front cover of the final edition, although it is unknown when this tradition began. Research by former Pelican editor Henry F. Skerritt, published in his final editorial of 2000, suggests that this tradition began in 1972.[2]


Typically, each edition of Pelican circulates around a particular theme. These can be a range of diverse topics such as "Ammunition", "Class", "Superstition", "The Future", "Patriotism", and "Sex". Each Pelican also includes articles that deal more broadly with politics, popular culture, and aspects of the student lifestyle. Pelican also includes coverage of music, books, film, television, and the arts. These are ordered within individual sub-sections, each of which is coordinated by a different section editor. Previous editions of Pelican were produced as a broadsheet, until Beth Shaw established the tabloid format. These broadsheet editions were much more loosely themed with a preference for several-thousand word articles and essays and a condensed review section.

Voluntary student unionism[edit]

The implementation of voluntary student unionism in 2006 had a significant impact on the viability of student newspapers across Australia, compulsory student union membership fees having been the major source of income for most. Pelican is one of the few Australian papers to have not been affected by these changes, and this can be largely attributed to the high voluntary membership intake of the University of Western Australia Student Guild.


In late 2007, in the lead up to the federal election of that year, UWA student and Australian Labor Party candidate for the seat of O'Connor, Dominic Rose, was caught up in a national controversy over an article published in Pelican. It was revealed that some time before his preselection, the student had written a piece in which he referred to then Labor Party leader and Prime Ministerial hopeful Kevin Rudd as a "filthy Liberal".[3] The story was carried nationally and appeared in major publications, including The Age,[4],[5] The Herald Sun,[6] and the national broadsheet The Australian.[7]