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Quill Blog


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.


November 22nd, 2022 • Quill Blog
“She Said,” “Vengeance” and more added to Quill’s ranked journalism movie list

We’ve added ten more films to our growing Journalism Movies Ranked list, including the just-released “She Said” and such old-school eyebrow-raisers as “Francis Covers the Big Town.” The list now names and reviews 160 flicks. To find out where these rank on our list, visit here.


September 20th, 2022 • Featured, Quill Blog, Odds and Ends
UPDATED: 190 journalism movies, ranked

Note: The popularity of this story prompted us to treat it as a dynamic document, adding more reviews as appropriate movies are released or discovered. So what started as “110 Journalism Movies, Ranked” has morphed into “190 Journalism Movies Ranked.” And soon we’ll hit the 200 mark.


September 12th, 2022 • Featured, Quill Blog
Staying Safe Amid Journalism’s Rising Risks

The stunning recent murder of Las Vegas Review Journal investigative reporter Jeff German was as unexpected as it was frightening and is shining a renewed spotlight on the risks of reporting — even in the United States. German was well-known for reporting on government corruption, organized crime and wrongdoing for decades working first for the Las Vegas Sun and then the Las Vegas Review-Journal.


July 6th, 2022 • Featured, Quill Archives, Diversity
“Sorry” state: Should newspapers apologize for their pasts?

The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, partnered with white supremacists to intimidate black voters in the 1890s yet remains a respected newspaper today, writer Alexandria Neason noted in a story last year. “Americans have short memories; we don’t like to be reminded of our many sins, so instead we prop up lofty narratives of progress and unity that obscure the violence enacted along the way,” Neason wrote for the Columbia Journalism Review.


May 16th, 2022 • Featured, Quill Archives, Diversity
Making good on diversity promises

One of the most important jobs of any newsroom in any city is to tell the stories of the people who shape and construct the narratives of the community. But for many years, newsrooms, reporters and leaders did not reflect those communities as well as they should.


March 9th, 2022 • Featured, Quill Archives, Freedom of Information
Declining fulfillment typifies today’s FOIA. Here’s why.

(image credit: www.epictop10.com) Many a great story has come out of Freedom of Information Act findings. At the same time, many a story doesn’t get written because the requested documents don’t arrive by deadline – if at all. And the two-year-old pandemic is worsening response times.


February 16th, 2022 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives
Beyond the Zucker headlines, another ethics issue

Jeff Zucker’s departure from the network he led has been big news. But media executives and newsroom managers who strive to produce journalism with high ethical standards should take note of a passing detail in the events at CNN that preceded his leaving. 


October 4th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Diversity, People and Places
2021 Fellows Feature: Maria Hinojosa

For almost four decades, Maria Hinojosa has shared the stories of marginalized communities through work that celebrates the diversity of the American experience. In 1992, she helped launch the Peabody Award–winning “Latino USA” — one of the earliest public-radio shows devoted to Latino issues — and is its host and executive producer.


August 24th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Diversity, People and Places
The 19th*: Gender, politics and policy are the keywords at a bold start-up writing “for communities rather than about them”

Launching a journalism startup in the midst of a pandemic, protests and a presidential election year with an unstable economy looming overhead, most would probably agree, is a terrible idea. But, for The 19th co-founders Amanda Zamora and Emily Ramshaw, it was the perfect opportunity to put women front and center.


August 23rd, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Diversity, People and Places
Ms. Mayhem: A self-funded news website takes pride in reporting on the intersection of race, class, gender, ability and sexual orientation

Late one night in December 2017, Madison Lauterbach was having trouble falling asleep in the Sydney, Australia, hostel where she was staying over Christmas break. In between journalism school semesters at Metropolitan State University of Denver and getting ready to start her first journalism internship, she had an epiphany.


August 9th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Diversity, People and Places
BridgeDetroit: Connecting with readers is key for a newcomer filling “information gaps” in the Motor City

BridgeDetroit launched in the middle of 2020 with one purpose: to focus on “lifting up the issues that Detroiters themselves identify as important to their lives.” That meant staffing with a diverse team that reflected the city’s demographics, and hiring an engagement director whose job would be to meet with the community in an effort to create something that truly represented Detroit.


July 29th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Diversity, People and Places
Wind Newspaper: A free, bilingual weekly with a staff of one makes a difference in San Francisco

Every Tuesday and Wednesday, Portia Li makes the 45-minute trek north from her Millbrae home to San Francisco’s iconic Chinatown neighborhood. On a particularly gorgeous day, with a warmth that is the antithesis of the cool weather the City by the Bay is known for, she purposely parks on hilly Sacramento Street.


July 6th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Freedom of the Prez, From the President
From the President: Our most important interviews

Remember your first nerve-racking interview as a student journalist? Remember the thrill of finishing your first story and having it actually be in the world? Remember reaching out to pros for advice while in college, not knowing if they’d talk to you, then hearing they gladly would?


June 1st, 2021 • Quill Blog, Quill Archives, News Biz Quiz
June — and final — News Biz Quiz

I’d like to begin this, the final Quill News Biz Quiz, by saying thanks. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed these quizzes over the last few months and perhaps even gotten some new insight into how media itself can shape the news. As for me, I’m signing off to start work on my PhD in mass communications at: a) Syracuse University’s Newhouse School b) Faber College c) Grand Lakes University d) Wossamatta U e) UC Sunnydale The correct answer is a, obviously, but bonus points for you if you can name the source of the fictional higher education locations on this list.


May 27th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Journalism Education
Navigating Remote Learning

This feature celebrates one of SPJ’s four guiding principals: We are producers of journalism’s future.  These days, Robert Walz approaches his teaching in much the same way he did as a TV news anchor: with short bursts of information delivered in an engaging way.


May 26th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Bookshelf, Diversity
Bookshelf: Ken Ellingwood looks at journalism pioneer Elijah Lovejoy

Ken Ellingwood readily admits that the subject of his new book is not exactly a household name. But for anyone who believes mightily in the First Amendment, Elijah Lovejoy was a titan of its promise and protections. “First to Fall: Elijah Lovejoy and the Fight for a Free Press in the Age of Slavery” is Ellingwood’s deeply researched story of a man in the 1830s who used the power of the pen to speak out firmly against the horrors of slavery, fighting back harder with every death threat and unruly mob who came after him.


May 19th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Ethics Toolbox
Connecting to the Code

This feature celebrates one of SPJ’s four guiding principals: We are stewards of ethical journalism.  Truth took a beating during the past four years, with the previous U.S. president frequently spewing provably false or misleading statements as disinformation overall coursed through social media with ferocious speed.


April 27th, 2021 • Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Bookshelf
Bookshelf: Editing the annual ‘Best American Magazine Writing’ anthology

Sid Holt, executive director of the American Society of Magazine Editors, knows a thing or two about long-form journalism. He started his career in 1984 at Rolling Stone, where he rose to managing editor within six years. His crowded resume also includes a stint as editorial director of Us Magazine; editor-in-chief and executive vice president of Adweek Magazines from 1998 to 2004; chief editor of Editor & Publisher; and editorial director of VNU Business Media, whose digital and print portfolio includes Billboard and the Hollywood Reporter.


April 26th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Member Profile, People and Places
Celebrating the Stories Behind the Stories

This feature celebrates one of SPJ’s four guiding principals: We are champions for journalists.  For nearly 90 years, the Society of Professional Journalists awards have honored journalists and outlets for their crucial contributions to the profession. The awards are designed to recognize the very best in professional journalism across print, radio, television, newsletters, art/graphics and online.


April 16th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog
Hicks: DeSantis square off with “60 Minutes” feeds media distrust

It sounded familiar: A politician brazenly admonishing the press for a story that portrayed him unfavorably, accusing the reporter of bias and the “big corporate media” of smearing his name for profit.  But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ excoriation of a “60 Minutes” report on the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout landed differently because a significant aspect of his criticism — a questionable allegation of wrongdoing — was echoed by respected mainstream journalists and news organizations, elevating the credibility of his complaint. 


April 12th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Toolbox, Quill Archives
SPJ Journalist’s Toolbox Tool of the Month: Scraping a .PDF

I loathe .PDFs of public records with the power of a thousand suns. They’re a tease. They’re full of data tables but useless to most data journalists in the .PDF format. And government officials love to share them with us because they know a .PDF


April 8th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives
Understanding Shield Law

This feature celebrates one of SPJ’s four guiding principals: We are fighters for the First Amendment.    You’ve written a story that embarrassed someone who now wants the name of your protected source. Or perhaps a trial judge demands you testify and spill all.


April 1st, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, News Biz Quiz
News Biz Quiz: Oprah, Jeopardy, media leaders, more

No foolin’ — it’s time for another News Biz Quiz! Yes, this one does have a story that fooled some news outlets. It also has Oprah making fools out of some British royals and late newsman Roger Mudd fooling a politician with a seemingly easy question.


March 30th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Diversity, Journalist on Call
Diversifying newsrooms requires buy-in and commitment to goals

A goal of American newspaper editors to achieve newsroom diversity that matched the racial and ethnic diversity of the country was considered so ambitious they set the deadline more than two decades out.  Twenty years after the deadline, the goal still hasn’t been met, but the urgent need to do so remains, highlighted by the recent Atlanta-area killings of eight people, six of them women of Asian descent. 


March 29th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Freedom of the Prez, From the President
From the President: Shifting gears and moving forward

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I had to cancel a half-dozen eagerly anticipated trips I’d planned as incoming Society of Professional Journalists president. I had booked flights to Hawaii, Minnesota, Utah, Illinois, Indiana and Washington, D.C. — three for regional SPJ conferences and three others for leadership training, a board meeting and our Sigma Delta Chi Awards.


March 22nd, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Ten With...
10 with DuJuan McCoy

DuJuan McCoy began his career in Indianapolis selling TV advertising spots door-to-door. More than three decades later, the media mogul has managed, owned and operated various networks, at one point becoming the only Black person to own and operate a Fox affiliate in the United States.


March 8th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Toolbox, Quill Archives, Digital Media Toolbox
SPJ Journalist’s Toolbox Tool of the Month: Scrape data from a web page/format it for editing

Government websites love to bury data in tables on web pages. Why? It satisfies legal requirements for making document public under sunshine laws, but it renders the data useless. You can’t sort or filter the data to look for trends, do math calculations to find rates and averages, and other things journalists need to find stories.


March 1st, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, News Biz Quiz
News Biz Quiz: Podcasts, McClatchy, Tiger Woods, more

Welcome to March’s News Biz Quiz which, like the month itself, comes in like a lion and goes out like…well…name another thing with big, sharp teeth and you’ve pretty much got the idea. But in between we’ll ask about coverage of Tiger Woods, the U.S.


February 22nd, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives
Mentoring in a New World

Today’s young and upcoming journalists have uniquely advantageous qualities and experiences. They interact widely and frequently through social media. They are resourceful and accustomed to getting immediate answers. They prolifically produce their own media through YouTube, TikTok, VSCO and other media sharing apps.


February 15th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Journalist on Call
Handling the Hate

Rachael Eyler was confident she was prepared to start her career as a multimedia reporter at a small Wisconsin TV station back in the spring. She had a new journalism degree, experience from internships and campus media, and was coming off a multimedia fellowship at The Wall Street Journal in London.


February 10th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives
D.C. journalism memorial takes a step forward

Presidents, soldiers who died in the line of duty, even those who gave their lives saving others on the Titanic all have been memorialized with monuments in the nation’s capital. Now, journalists killed in the line of duty may get their due too.