June 26th, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog
With fields and arenas empty, sports writers take on hard news
Normally, Ava Wallace can be found interviewing the Washington Wizards players for The Washington Post, but she recently covered a Black Lives Matter protest in Louisville when police fired tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd. Alex Putterman, the University of Connecticut football beat writer at the Hartford Courant, hasn’t written a sports story in months.
When The New York Times Magazine writer Nikole Hannah-Jones pitched the 1619 Project to her editors last year, she didn’t know that people would drive 60 miles to get their hands on the issue the day it dropped or that a few thousand more would line the streets outside the paper’s office nearly two weeks later to snag a copy.
When police in Ferguson, Missouri, launched tear gas into a crowd of protesters in 2014, reporter Errin Haines was swept up in the ensuing stampede, prompting a man to usher her and another journalist to safety in his nearby home. The man wasn’t a total stranger.
As protests erupt in the wake of police brutality, one key point for journalists to remember is that many police agencies have enforced silence on police officers. And that creates an historically fearful secrecy. In an SPJ-sponsored 2016 survey, 56% of police reporters said they can rarely or never interview a police officer without involving a department’s public information officer.
June 4th, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog, Ethics Toolbox
Ethics: Should journalists show the faces of protesters?
Taking photos or video of protesters and people marching or demonstrating in public spaces is a right afforded to journalists under the First Amendment. In the United States people have a right to information. Journalists help fulfill that right to information by responsibly reporting on what is happening in communities across the country.
June 3rd, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog
Police and protesters: Please let journalists do their jobs
Sunday night, around 9:30 p.m. in downtown Atlanta, I stopped next to a tree to try and gather my thoughts and decide where to go next. I was on assignment for The Washington Post covering the George Floyd protests and, while just an hour earlier there had been a lot of action with tear gas and fireworks in the streets, the city’s curfew went into effect at 9 and for the most part all was quiet.
It’s really difficult to describe how distressing and exhausting the past week has been for many black people and black reporters — and far more difficult to explain why. But as a black man and a black journalist, I feel the need to try.
Whether we went to journalism school or worked our way up through a series of hard-nosed editors, we all were taught that the job is to tell people the news so they can react to those facts as they will — not to tell them how to feel about it.
SPJ has a new Executive Director. But rather than write a standard profile of him, Quill asked John Shertzer to write about his informed thoughts on the challenges facing membership organizations. I love membership associations. From the time I wore my blue corduroy FFA jacket in high school, and then my fraternity badge in college, and, soon after, my Kiwanis pin as a working professional, I have been attracted to organizations with missions devoted to making men and women better.
While COVID19 has necessitated hard news writing (under very challenging circumstances), consumers also need and want more to engage them, help them and even make them smile during these challenging times. Need some ideas to supplement the leading news stories? At Quill, we brainstormed and came up with a list of story areas that might fill your editorial gaps. Dating life.
Let me start with a quick introduction: My team leads strategy for email newsletters at The Wall Street Journal. We’re big believers in email as a tool to deliver news and engage audiences. Across the media landscape, email newsletters are on fire, and for all the right reasons.
For decades, Ebony magazine provided something unique: a high-gloss, high-profile magazine focused solely on black America. While other magazines offered occasional glimpses into their lives, their heroes and their challenges, Ebony put African Americans and their stories on the cover and on every page that followed.
April 8th, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog, Code Words, Ethics Toolbox
Ethics: Answering questions about COVID-19 coverage
At the Society of Professional Journalists, we talk a lot about how your ethical standards should not change no matter the medium or type of story you are producing. While covering COVID-19, the same is true: Ethics apply no matter the medium.
Can you show a decrease in your journalism income because of the current pandemic? Freelance journalists nationwide including sole proprietors, independent contractors and the self-employed (for example, S Corporation owners) might now be entitled unemployment benefits in their state. Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, the provisions of the unemployment program have been expanded to help provide temporary monetary relief for freelance journalists and other workers who illustrate a decrease in income resulting from the effects of the current pandemic virus on business operations.
March 26th, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog
In challenging circumstances, students write first draft of history
He was about to begin dress rehearsals for the school play. Sam Shelenberger, a senior at Saegertown High School in Saegertown, Pennsylvania, had scheduled a week off of work at a local gas station to prepare for his role in “Matilda,” a play about a precocious five-year-old girl.
March 23rd, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog
Hicks: Trump among challenges of accurately covering COVID-19
Journalists are encountering numerous challenges as they report on the coronavirus outbreak. One is the president of the United States. President Donald Trump spent the early days of the virus’ arrival on the homeland denying it would have much impact here.