April 7th, 2004 • Quill Archives, From the Editor
From the Editor: Election coverage: Don’t fall short
It didn’t take long for us to decide on a theme for our annual ethics issue. In December, when we were setting the editorial calendar, we were seeing daily coverage of the Democratic primary race. That coverage provided media watchers with plenty to discuss, and it was clear from the tone of those early campaigns that the main event – the presidential race this November – was going to be one to remember.
In the December 2001 issue of Quill, we ran a story about the difficulties finding a job in tough economic times. Sources in the article advised that journalists – particularly those coming right out of school – lower their expectations about the newsroom job they hoped to enter upon graduation.
In the December 2003 issue of Quill, I wrote about the importance of journalists seeking out training opportunities in their own newsrooms. When budgets are tight and outside training opportunities are limited, sometimes it’s best to start looking inward for ideas and lessons for improvement.
December 9th, 2003 • Quill Archives, From the Editor
From the Editor: Seek out training opportunities around you
When newsroom budgets are cut – as we’ve seen in the past several years – certain expenses just seem to get the ax first. Travel expenses. Support for enterprise reporting. Employer-paid memberships in journalism organizations (as you can imagine, this is one we hear a lot about).
November 11th, 2003 • Quill Archives, From the Editor
From the Editor: A decision away from disgrace and disrepute
Journalism ethics is one of SPJ’s primary missions. In this magazine, we regularly run stories about different ethical issues journalists face. At SPJ’s convention two months ago, much of the programming addressed ethical concerns. The Society has a well-established Code of Ethics that can be used when making decisions.
This issue of Quill is about the best and worst of journalism. You can probably guess what I mean when I say the worst. We’ve all heard plenty about Jayson Blair and The New York Times in recent weeks. And before that, it was the Salt Lake Tribune under the microscope when two reporters sold information to the National Enquirer.
We talk a lot – in the journalism profession, in SPJ, in the pages of this magazine every month – about how journalism is supposed to be practiced. We talk about ethics codes. We talk about a professional detachment from our sources.
April 29th, 2003 • Quill Archives, From the Editor
From the Editor: The many shades of journalism ethics
As I’m finishing this issue of Quill, I’m watching news reports of the unfolding war in Iraq. The war is just over a week old, but already the media’s coverage of the war is being closely scrutinized. Critics from all sides are discussing coverage and asking questions that will surely be considered for years to come: Can embedded journalists cover the war objectively?
American journalism has done a lot of evolving in the past century or so. Think about the different philosophies and approaches to journalism that have changed the way we do our work: The partisan press gave way to muckraking in the early 20th century.
February 18th, 2003 • Quill Archives, From the Editor
From the Editor: Still need summer plans? Come work for SPJ
Summer is five months away, but we’re already planning for it here at SPJ and Quill. The summer months are busy ones for Quill. Our biggest issues of the year – the Sigma Delta Chi Awards issue and the annual freedom of information issue – are both prepared in the summer months, and each one requires a lot of work.
A reporter always has to worry about presumption. Presumption tags along on every story. It lurks in every story budget meeting. Despite our best attempts to avoid them, our presumptions inevitably find their way into our news pages and broadcasts. I suppose you could call it bias.
It’s interesting to hear non-journalists critique the coverage of their local news outlets. Often, they’re convinced that reporters and editors make decisions based on how many papers they can sell. Or they think that journalists are out to “get” people by publishing the embarrassing details of their lives.
July 23rd, 2002 • Quill Archives, From the Editor
From the Editor: Should we teach fot today or tomorow
There’s an interesting relationship that exists between the academic world and the professional one. The goal of most J-schools is to prepare students to enter and succeed in a professional newsroom. At the same time, the academic setting provides unique opportunities for experimentation that aren’t available in most newsrooms.
Every year, SPJ’s Sigma Delta Chi Awards recognize the best work in American journalism from the past year. The prestigious awards go to journalists from all types of media performing all types of journalism. There are categories for print, television, radio, and online news.
What is a journalist? It’s funny that such a simple question is so difficult to answer – or to even talk about. After all, we do journalism every day, right? Surely we should be able to define what we do. But what makes someone a journalist is one of those great unanswered questions in our profession.
For this year’s annual ethics issue of Quill, we focused our attention toward a universal topic that affects the work of every reporter – the sources of our information. Every news story that we write or broadcast depends on outside sources, and the credibility of our work is inevitably attached to those individuals and documents we choose to present to our readers and viewers.
It’s sometimes hard to make changes. When we’re accustomed to thinking about things in a certain way, and it’s a difficult process to step back and look at the big picture objectively enough to see where change needs to take place.
February 6th, 2002 • Quill Archives, From the Editor
From the Editor: Leggett case is part of a larger battle
I’m sure you’ve noticed that our cover this month features Vanessa Leggett, the Houston writer whose high-profile jail stay made headlines during the past several months. Since her incarceration in July for refusing to give her notes on a murder case to a federal grand jury, Leggett has won the support of journalism groups across the country.
December 14th, 2001 • Quill Archives, From the Editor
From the Editor — Economic prospects and ethical reflections
It’s a very interesting time to watch American journalism. Before Sept. 11, it was clear that things weren’t going so well for the profession. The struggling economy had hit media companies particularly hard, and announcements of layoffs, cutbacks and hiring freezes were being made almost daily.
We talk a lot in this magazine about the shortcomings of our profession – the ethical lapses, the growing public mistrust of the media, and the increasing influence of profits on the news. But when tragedy hit our nation on Sept.
July 31st, 2001 • Quill Archives, From the Editor
FROM THE EDITOR: Instilling a passion for journalism
Journalism is a hard sell these days. At schools, more and more students are opting for alternatives such as public relations or advertising. Despite aggressive minority recruiting campaigns by organizations such as the Freedom Forum and the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the number of minorities in newsrooms fell last year.