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Underground newspaper to compete in high school journalism contest


An underground newspaper put out by Pacifica students unhappy with censorship at an official school paper was accepted for a high school journalism competition by the Peninsula Press Club last night.

The Subterranean, put out by a mostly anonymous group of Terra Nova High School students, will be the first unofficial student publication to compete side by side with school-sponsored papers in the annual contest.

“The issue was that it was not sanctioned, it was not a normal school-sponsored newspaper,” Peninsula Press Club President John Kane told the Daily News. Kane said the paper had sparked an intense discussion among club board members at a meeting in San Mateo. “This has never come up before.”

Ultimately, the paper was found to meet all of the competition’s criteria and the board voted unanimously to accept it. A Terra Nova English teacher agreed to sign off as the paper’s faculty sponsor.

Board member Ed Remitz said he was concerned that other “underground” newspapers would not know they were eligible for the contest, but did not think that official sanction and support should be relevant to a discussion of journalism.

“I’m looking forward to sitting down and actually looking at the papers,” he said.

The Subterranean was launched last year after 1,500 issues of the official school paper, The Roar, were destroyed by Terra Nova officials, according to a statement by the paper’s editors.

Principal David Kazakoff had reportedly objected to an article in the paper called “Deuces Wild” about card-playing on campus that suggested students would not be playing in class if teachers were doing their jobs properly.

Since then, the paper has put out 12 issues, more than any other student paper in the contest this year, and covered topics ranging from the Pacifica City Council race to speeding drivers to depression.

Regular features include “Kudos and Loser of the Week” and student poetry and cartoons, as well as criticism of school officials and teachers. Writers take pseudonyms such as Thomas Paine, Dante Alighieri and Arthur Dent.

“Due to the underground nature of the publication and in order to avoid administrative reprisal, the Subterranean’s writers must remain protected under pseudonyms,” wrote co-editor and student Nils Palsson in his contest entry form.

Kazakoff could not be reached for comment last night. Palsson declined comment.

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