The Zine is an alternative school publication for The University of King's College and the surrounding area of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The paper is known for its bathos, mixing absurd and satirical writing with hard news - often in the same story. The paper's ultimate goal is to be entertaining and informative, while testing the creative bounderies of journalism.
The Zine was first published by Paul McLeod, Mike Landry, and Keegan Lam in the Fall of 2002 while the three were students at Dartmouth High School in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
McLeod and Lam had known each other from the neighborhood where they grew up (woodside) and had started hanging out together when they entered Dartmouth High School. The pair later ended up getting to know Landry in music class. The three had absolutely no journalism experience. McLeod was raised on newspapers and McLean's, while Landry had made his way from Time, Rolling Stone, and The Economist, to Big Brother. Lam liked Stephen King.
The idea for the Zine grew out of the trio's discontent for the existing student paper, The Mag. The three chose the name for three reasons. First, the name expressed a desire to be the complete opposite from The Mag, so they took the opposite end of the word Magazine. Second, it is in fact what is commonly understood to be a "zine." And third, the name is an acronym for their style of writing: "Zealous, Informative News-Entertainment."
The Zine featured, and continues to feature, extremely low production costs. The paper was made of folded-over legal sized paper that was photocopied and involved literally cutting and pasting articles. The first issue hit in October of 2002 and was only 8 pages. While the writing is more crude and unfocused than in future issues, it was noted for having an interview with filmmaker Michael Moore, who had been in halifax promoting the release of Bowling for Columbine.
The first issue included many Zine staples that would live on. It started the tradition of every Zine cover being an illustration (in the high school era, usually drawn by fellow student Richard Klaas), typing up the editorial on a typewriter and purposely leaving in typos, as well as kicking off the use of joking, and often mean Horoscopes on the back page. (An example: "Prom Ticket: $50. Tux: $100. Limo: $75. Date: $20. The look on your face when they tell you you have syphilis: Priceless.)
In its first year, The Zine often described itself as a source of "guerrilla journalism," and was wildly experimental. One interview, with homeless acquaintance Luke O'Hearn, was recorded and published verbatim. This had the effect of having O'Hearn talking about the difficulties of surviving on the streets, while also portraying them sitting around in an apartment, playing with a dog during the interview. McLeod still refers to this as "the best interview we've ever done."
After the three graduated from high school the following year, McLeod and Landry went to the University of King's College to Study Journalism. Lam went on a Ba'hai pilgrimage to Belize for a year. McLeod and Landry initially set out to continue the Zine, but ultimately gave up on the endeavor, due to workload and the loss of Lam. They did produce one issue, however.
The second era Zine looked very much like its predecessors. It featured an interview with the creator of the movie Michael Moore Hates America (in a bizarre parallel to the first issue), as well as satirizing students complaining about tuition.
The third and current era of The Zine began much the same as the first. By their third year at King's, McLeod and Landry had grown frustrated with the poor quality of the King's student paper, The Watch. They decided to ressurect The Zine.
The third era Zine made many chances to the formula. The most notable of which was the addition of a layout editor, Brent Butcher. Butcher's technical skill increased the visual quality of the Zine greatly, though it staid true to its photocopying roots. The new era also ended several traditions.
- The Editorial was no longer typed on a typewriter or included deliberate errors
- Except for the first issue, there were no longer illustrations by Keegan Lam that bordered the articles.
- The Horoscopes section was removed. Instead, the back page is now filled with advice columnist Garreth MacDonald's "Advice No One Asked For."
- The letters section was changed from "The Vent" to simply "Letters to the Editor"
The Zine also picked up Sarah Lilleyman as TV columnist and contributing editor. There are varying contributors for each issue.
The Zine continues to experiment in pushing journalistic boundries. One infamous article had the staff go to a strip club to perform a "strippers pole" and ask what strippers thought of the upcoming federal election. They also have added a new feature this year: the four-line column by Wes Marskell. In it, Marskell sprouts inexplicably absurd prose throughout four sentences. The most recent issue also included a three-line article by Kirby Best, criticizing the long-windedness of four-lined articles.
- After a few issues of The Zine first came out, Dartmouth High Principal Phil Leger attempted to shut it down. He cited frequent swearing and objectionable content (the use of the word "retarted," jokes about cancer, and columnist Caleb Zelenietz's forceful, though satirical call for Iraqi deaths.) Leger threatened the editors with unspecified consequences if they didn't either censor their content or stop distributing at the school. The controversey was picked up by local media such as The Halifax Daily News and The Coast. The editors refused to alter the content, and continued to distribute, albeit discretely, on campus and also on the sidewalk just off of school property. They were never disciplined.
- In the first issue of the third-era Zine, a gossip column by then-columnist Duke Langdon (a pen name) ellicited accusations of sexism. The next issue of The Zine included an advertisement that read "The Zine: Now 60% Less Sexist."