Magazine article Editor & Publisher

93-Year-Old High School Newspaper in Jeopardy

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

93-Year-Old High School Newspaper in Jeopardy

Article excerpt

93-year-old high school newspaper in jeopardy

A 93-year-old San Francisco high school newspaper, many of whose staffers went on to success in journalism, is slated for extinction this spring, the victim of budget cuts.

The Lowell, which claims to be the oldest continually published high school paper west of the Mississippi, was once edited by Pierre Salinger, ABC News correspondent, who was President John F. Kennedy's press secretary. Famed cartoonist Rube Goldberg drew several of its covers in the early part of this century.

The tabloid serves Lowell High School, whose academic rating is one of the highest in the state. Graduates include former California Gov. Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, novelist Irving Stone, and actress-singer Carol Channing.

Former Lowell reporters and editors now are bylined in the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner and the Los Angeles Times among other newspapers. Another alumnus is NBC News correspondent Glen Dobbs.

A prize-winning paper for years, the Lowell in 1989-90 received a medalist rating from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, earning 954 of a possible 1,000 points.

The paper's financial problem is not the cost of publishing. Its $15,000-a-year production budget is met by advertising, a student activities fund, and a small grant from the alumni association.

Its doom was spelled by a layoff notice given its adviser, Peter Hammer. He was swept up in a $25 million budget cut for the San Francisco school system ordered by Superintendent Ramon Cortines in anticipation of a $2 billion statewide paring of education spending sought by Gov. Pete Wilson.

Hammer, who has only two years of seniority, was one of 500 San Francisco teachers who have received preliminary dismissal notices from the district.

In addition to guiding the Lowell, Hammer also teaches five journalism courses, the most offered by any local high school. They too probably will be wiped out when he goes, said Hammer, who is one of only five San Francisco high school teachers credentialed to teach journalism.

Hammer said his department chairman has told him the newspaper will not be published in the fall. According to the adviser, no other San Francisco high school newspaper is scheduled to be axed.

Barring a last-minute reprieve, the Lowell will publish its last issue May 30, Hammer said. The paper comes out every three weeks.

"This is a tragedy for our student staff and the school," Hammer told E&P. "There are 150 kids in the journalism program who are learning writing, graphics, design and computer skills. …

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