The Reporter has been published for nearly 150 years; the first edition was published in October 1870, when it cost four shillings a term. Prior to its inception, the principal record of University business was a series of 'Grace Books' (from 1854 to 1870). Its purpose, as noted in the first edition, was to present all University Notices and Reports in a form convenient for filing and reference; to supply copies of examination papers; to record the Acta of the past week, the agenda for the next week, and the annual index of Graces; and to 'publish official notices issued by various associations in existence among graduate and undergraduate members of the University'. It was also hoped that the Reporter would 'afford an opportunity for open discussion on all subjects fairly connected with the interests of the University', and to that end, it even included a letters page. Today, the role of the Reporter is still closely aligned with these original purposes - both in conveying University business, and thus helping University members to engage with the governance processes of the University; and fulfilling an archival role as the official record of University business.
In 1997, a web version of the Reporter began to be published, alongside the hard-copy version, which was printed and distributed by CUP. In September 2011, the Reporter became an online-only publication; although hard-copies are no longer distributed, a printable PDF is available from the Reporter website.