A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists


Quill Blog


May 14th, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives
Covering COVID-19: SciLine’s director on avoiding the overreach

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.


May 7th, 2020 • Featured, Quill Archives, Membership
Pins, Pathways and Purpose: The challenges for membership organizations

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.


May 1st, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Journalist on Call, Odds and Ends
Beyond the hard news: 23 tips for when feature ideas run out

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.


April 21st, 2020 • Featured, Quill Archives, Journalism Education
(News)Letter Perfect

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.


April 15th, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Bookshelf, Diversity, Odds and Ends
Bookshelf: “Ebony Magazine and Lerone Bennett Jr.: Popular Black History in Postwar America”

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.


April 1st, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog, Toolbox, Quill Archives, Freelance Toolbox
Freelancers, Unemployment and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act

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.


March 18th, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog, Toolbox, Quill Archives
Hicks: Groups urge care, precision in coronavirus reporting

Journalists covering the coronavirus have produced compelling, informative stories, but along the way, there have been mischaracterizations, inaccuracies and absent nuances. An ABC News story posted to its website incorrectly implied the terms coronavirus and COVID-19 can be used interchangeably, a common mistake.


March 17th, 2020 • Quill Blog
10 with Pat Mitchell

Journalist and media executive Pat Mitchell’s resume includes time as president of CNN productions, president of PBS and editorial director of TEDwomen, along with the accumulation of 37 Emmys and five Peabody awards. In many of those roles, she was the first woman.


March 12th, 2020 • Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Bookshelf
Bookshelf: “Conversations on Conflict Photography”

As Lauren Walsh was preparing to teach her New York University class on ethics and photojournalism one day a few years ago, she projected onto a screen an image that would open that day’s discussion. Shot at a food line in the Sudan, the photo depicted in stark black-and-white a man so weakened by starvation that he could not stand.


March 3rd, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Journalist on Call
Hicks: During crises, public needs trust in government and the press

As the infectious coronavirus travels the globe, claiming more than 3,000 lives so far, public health professionals have urged people to learn the facts. Meanwhile, a White House official had a different message for Americans: Stay uninformed. Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney on Feb.


February 25th, 2020 • Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Bookshelf
Bookshelf: New book explores trade publication’s role in exposure of the Keating Five

In late 1989, front pages and evening newscasts were dominated for weeks by stories about the national savings and loan crisis that saw more than 1,000 thrift institutions fail. Drawing particular interest from the media was a high-powered businessman named Charles Keating Jr.,


February 18th, 2020 • Quill Blog, Toolbox, Freelance Toolbox, Narrative Writing Toolbox
Excerpt: Tips on organizing notes from “The Craft of Science Writing”

The new book The Craft of Science Writing is a curated collection from The Open Notebook, a primary resource for science journalists. It offers a primer on how to report and write about science, including how to read a scientific paper and how to explain complex concepts and processes clearly.


February 17th, 2020 • Quill Blog, Quill Archives
Hicks: Snoop Dogg’s threat to Gayle King echoes national media attacks

Snoop Dogg’s sexist, threatening response to Gayle King for bringing up an old rape allegation against Kobe Bryant looked very familiar. It reminded me of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launching into a profanity-laced tantrum following an interview with National Public Radio anchor Mary Louise Kelly.