A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists


Quill Archives


February 13th, 2024 • Quill Archives
Nameless In Print

Marvel Comics and artist Banksy both agree: being invisible is a superpower. You’re there, but you’re not there. The same goes for being a ghostwriter, where staying hidden is a large part of the power. In fact, it’s a core part of the talent, and oftentimes is a contractual obligation.


January 22nd, 2024 • Quill Archives
Diversity programs under attack

Assistant Professor Chalise Macklin makes sure guests who speak to her broadcast classes at the University of Memphis include people of color, women and members of the LGBTQ+  community. And her lectures weave in examples that showcase a diverse range of people and communities.


January 8th, 2024 • Quill Archives
10 With Clayton Weimers of Reporters Without Borders

Since 1985, Reporters Without Borders has defended press freedom, pluralism and independence the world over. Approximately half the global population has no or limited access to free, uncensored, reliable news and information means that its work to track and publicize issues of press freedom infringement is happening around the clock.


January 3rd, 2024 • Quill Archives
The Press and the Police: How to handle interactions with law enforcement

When officers from the Marion Police Department showed up at Eric Meyer’s Kansas doorstep with a search warrant, the Marion County Record publisher and editor kept his cool despite being “incredulous and angry” that the raid, which he believed was unconstitutional, was a coordinated sweep on his home, the Record newsroom and a third location.


December 7th, 2023 • Quill Archives, From the President
From the President: On board for a bright future

As we embark on another year of service to the journalism community, I am honored to address you as the President of the Society of Professional Journalists. The SPJ board is already hard at work focusing on improving our fiscal health, strengthening our advocacy for journalism’s vital principles and ensuring SPJ remains relevant and inclusive.


November 28th, 2023 • Quill Archives
Bookshelf: “Last Paper Standing” recounts Colorado newspaper rivalry

As anyone who’s read about 19th century U.S. journalism already knows, old-timey newspaper circulation wars between rival papers could get pretty ugly. Yet even in those two-fisted times, when battles over readership sometimes turned into literal battles, the century-long struggle between the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News was something else.


November 3rd, 2023 • Featured, Quill Archives
Appeals court decision reinstates controversial drone photography law

In a decision that is likely to restrict the rights of Texas photojournalists to use drones in their reporting, a federal appeals court panel has reversed a lower court ruling that had found major portions of the state’s restrictive drone law unconstitutional.


October 31st, 2023 • Quill Archives
“Freelance,” “The Good Mother,” “Perfect,” more added to Quill’s ranked list of journalism films

Two brand-new releases, a nearly-a-century old Joan Crawford flick, and seven others get added to Quill’s epic, ongoing ranked list of journalism movies. Alas, none here rank very high. To see where our critics panel placed them, you can find the entire list here. 


September 26th, 2023 • Quill Archives
2023 Fellow Feature: Lesley Visser

“I was always the youngest and the first,” Lesley Visser says, summing up, in one short sentence, her pioneering career in sports media.  Visser’s list of history-making moments is longer than a Tom Brady touchdown pass. She was the first woman to cover an NFL team as a beat writer (she reported on the New England Patriots for The Boston Globe beginning in the 1970s) … the first woman to broadcast the NBA Finals, Final Four and World Series … the first woman assigned to “Monday Night Football” … the first woman to handle a Super Bowl trophy presentation … the first woman to be honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame … the first woman to win the Sports Lifetime Achievement Award at the Emmys.


September 25th, 2023 • Quill Archives
2023 Fellow Feature: Dana Priest

Two Pulitzer Prizes — for reporting on the CIA’s secret prisons, and conditions at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center — are just the tip of the journalistic iceberg for Dana Priest. A career reporter (primarily at The Washington Post) and bestselling author, she is the recipient of: the David Nyhan Prize for Political Journalism awarded by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University; the Gerald R.


September 22nd, 2023 • Quill Archives
2023 Fellow Feature: Marvin Kalb

Personally recruited to CBS News by Edward R. Murrow, Marvin Kalb abandoned his Ph.D. work in Russian history at Harvard University to plunge into a journalism career that spanned decades, including five and a half years living in the U.S.S.R. Today, at age 93, he resides in Washington, D.C.,


September 18th, 2023 • Quill Archives
2023 Fellow Feature: Soledad O’Brien

During a commencement address at Spelman College, Soledad O’Brien relayed a story about people in Maryland spitting on her parents in 1958 because they disapproved of the marriage between her mother, a Black Cuban, and father, a white Australian of Irish and Scottish heritage.


September 8th, 2023 • Quill Archives, From the President
From the President: A tough call

Family members streamed into the newsroom clutching pictures of their loved ones, hopeful they were either alive under the rubble of the World Trade Center or injured and dazed in a Manhattan emergency room.  On Sept. 11, 2001, I was design editor at the Staten Island Advance, a daily newspaper in New York City’s smallest borough, just eight miles from ground zero.


September 5th, 2023 • Quill Archives, People and Places
2023 Fellow Feature: Richard Drew

Even if you don’t know Richard Drew’s name, you’ve no doubt seen his work. As an Associated Press photographer for 53 years, his lens has caught everything from foreign wars, international Olympics Games, U.S. political races and European royalty, to natural disasters, neighborhood fires, police chases and small-town heroes. 


July 24th, 2023 • Quill Archives, Digital Media Toolbox
Making use of open source

Many major news stories begin their journey to public consciousness via social media. Witness the cellphone video shot by a bystander showing the killing of George Floyd and the videos of the Capitol insurgency of Jan. 6, 2021. With its vast and growing palette of digital tools, such open source intelligence has become a forensic art, applying to both journalism and criminal investigations. 


July 17th, 2023 • Quill Archives, Ethics Toolbox
Covering suicide responsibly

For more than a quarter of a century, suicide prevention experts have advised journalists against providing too many details about specific suicide methods, or presenting stories about suicide in a prominent way, due to the risk of copycat deaths. So a New York Times front page headline left me shocked: “Where the Despairing Learn Ways to Die.”


July 11th, 2023 • Quill Archives
Refreshing the pool

Like many journalists, Corey Walker didn’t major in journalism; he focused on history and economics while attending the University of Michigan. He loved to write, though, and took one journalism class and penned a few stories for the Michigan Review, a conservative alternative campus publication.


July 6th, 2023 • Quill Archives, Ten With...
10 With Lauren Williams

In 2020, many heavy issues and events were directly affecting African Americans, and not in a good way. Police or police wannabes killed unarmed Black citizens while a deadly contagion was spreading, disproportionally afflicting Black people. Nonetheless, hundreds of marches against police brutality and nervousness about a consequential presidential election drew scores of people outside, further putting Black Americans, in particular, at risk.


July 3rd, 2023 • Quill Archives
Exit the arts critics?

Jay Handelman, arts editor at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, sometimes feels like one of the last survivors of a critically endangered species. And he’s not wrong. Over the last couple of decades, the number of full-time, health-insurance-enrolled, 401(k)-contributing newspaper arts critics has declined more precipitously than the Siberian tiger population.


June 27th, 2023 • Quill Archives, From the President
From the President: Saluting SPJ’s pioneering women

Helen Thomas quieted the crowd and began her keynote address with a candid but rhetorical question.  “Where are all the women?” The legendary White House correspondent was dwarfed at the dais by two tiers of a mostly male board of directors in a ballroom filled with mostly male journalists at the SPJ annual convention in Atlanta 37 years ago. 


May 22nd, 2023 • Quill Archives
Empathetic interviewing

Kerry Sheridan was less than a month into the master’s journalism program at Columbia University when terrorists’ planes hit the World Trade Center on 9/11. She was new to New York, new to the practice of advanced journalism — and she was suddenly on the front lines of a catastrophic national event whose impact would reverberate for decades to come.


May 15th, 2023 • Quill Archives, Freelance Toolbox
Finding the fee in freelance

In most circles, it’s considered unsophisticated, uncouth and uncultured — and all of the other shameful “un” words — to talk about the money you make and the way you make it.  I don’t care. Let’s talk about it. As a freelancer, the matter of money involves a labyrinth of considerations, factors and variables, for which there is no universal solution that works for every writer or for every situation.


May 9th, 2023 • Quill Archives
Raising representation in student newsrooms

After a summer of nationwide protests following the police killing of George Floyd and outrage over the shooting death of a young Black man by a white bar owner in Omaha, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln student newspaper decided to make the value of Black lives the focus of its 2020 fall special edition.


April 28th, 2023 • Quill Archives
From Nixon to Trump with Woodward and Bernstein

Fifty years ago this May, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities — aka the Senate Watergate Committee — began its televised hearings into the break-in at the Democratic National Committee Headquarters.  The must-see-TV broadcasts turned the likes of E.


April 25th, 2023 • Quill Archives
Freedom of the (student) press tested

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of the press, or it’s supposed to. But for high school journalists, a lot depends on what state they live in. Two episodes from last year illustrate the point.  Last summer, in Grand Island, Nebraska, the public school district shut down the Viking Saga, after this venerable high school paper published an issue dedicated to Pride Month and LGBTQ+ issues.


April 21st, 2023 • Quill Archives, Ten With...
10 with Taylor Lorenz

Taylor Lorenz’s road to becoming a technology reporter featured many twists and turns. She started out by blogging on Tumblr and rose to internet stardom, soon realizing she could turn her passion into a reporting gig — but editors didn’t agree.


April 14th, 2023 • Quill Archives, From the President
From the President: Linking generations of journalists

John C. Long and Ana Rocío Álvarez Bríñez have never met. But they are linked to the same Kentucky newsroom and, like all SPJ members, are driven by a passion for the profession.  Their paths to membership couldn’t be more diverse. 


April 4th, 2023 • Quill Archives
Covering the COVID-19 origin debate

For about 24 hours in March, it looked as though the fierce, long-running debate over the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic might be close to resolution. First with the story was reporter Katherine J. Wu of The Atlantic, in a March 16 piece entitled “The Strongest Evidence Yet That An Animal Started the Pandemic.”


March 18th, 2023 • Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Freedom of Information
Officials in California destroyed public records. Now the spotlight is on them.

During Sunshine Week four years ago, I had the opportunity to thank California state Sen. Nancy Skinner for her work at an SPJ Northern California Pro Chapter awards ceremony.  Skinner had just authored California’s most consequential government transparency law in generations, Senate Bill 1421, which made police records relating to shootings and other serious incidents public.


March 16th, 2023 • Quill Archives
New “Boston Strangler” and nine more films added to Quill’s Journalism Movies list

Some recent releases (including the March 17 newcomer “Boston Strangler”) some older films and one western classic have been added to our growing Journalism Movies Ranked list. The unprecedented compendium now names and reviews 170 flicks. To find out where these rank on our list, visit here. 


March 10th, 2023 • Quill Archives
NY court agrees: You have the right to see police disciplinary records

Scrutiny of police activity has been a hot-button issue in recent years, and days, both nationally and locally. It goes without saying that law enforcement officials have an almost impossible job. With mass shootings an almost weekly occurrence and the unpredictability of violent crime, those who protect us face unimaginable obstacles.


February 16th, 2023 • Quill Archives
Women at war and the lessons learned

Among the first female war correspondents was Martha Gellhorn, who wrote for Collier’s magazine. Gellhorn faced challenges when covering World War II, including from her husband, Ernest Hemingway, whose telegram to her shortly after their marriage made clear the sexism she endured.