A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists


Quill Blog


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.


January 16th, 2020 • Quill Blog, Quill Archives
Update: “Bombshell,” “Richard Jewell” and more

“110 Journalism Movies, Ranked”  — Quill’s cinematic way of celebrating the 110th anniversary of SPJ — proved overwhelmingly popular. And it continues to get visited by a steady stream of readers. Since publication of the original piece, though, there has been a run of new movies with journalistic themes, which put our seemingly exhaustive story at risk of being outdated.


November 27th, 2019 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives
POV: Journalism PTSD

Marcella Raymond joined the WGN News team in October 1998 and serves as a general assignment reporter. In June of 2019, she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. “Sharing my story is scary,” she said, “but I’m hoping we can address the stigma of PTSD, show the warning signs, and get real.”


September 25th, 2019 • Featured, Quill Blog, Ten With...
10 with Brian Stelter

Now a senior media correspondent for CNN and the host of “Reliable Sources,” Brian Stelter’s rise to prominence began as a freshman in college when he created the blog CableNewser (later renamed TVNewser). His blog caught the attention of many media executives and was ultimately bought by MediaBistro.


August 29th, 2019 • Featured, Quill Blog
Excerpt: “There’s No Crying in Newsrooms” explores barriers facing women journalists

In the new book “There’s No Crying in Newsrooms: What Women Have Learned About What It Takes to Lead,” authors Kristin Grady Gilger, senior dean at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University, and Julia Wallace, the first woman editor-in-chief at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, share stories of groundbreaking women journalists.


August 15th, 2019 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Odds and Ends
Review: It’s the press against the Pres in new Watergate board game

Connecting two sources directly to President Nixon was proving challenging, in spite of the efforts of reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Just when a connection looked solid, a potential source clammed up. Evidence couldn’t be secured. And Nixon was building momentum heading toward the end of his term.


August 8th, 2019 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Ethics Toolbox
Quill question: When does sponsored content require disclosure?

An SPJ member asked: “A local entertainment publication provides a weekly print edition with information on weekly entertainment happenings in the area. They also feature various articles on people and events. Sometimes the cover is sold for the featured event. Does this require a disclosure?


August 5th, 2019 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives
Q&A: Ben Montgomery, the reporter whose work led to Colson Whitehead’s novel “The Nickel Boys”

Ben Montgomery estimates that he’s written more than 150,000 words about Florida’s Arthur Dozier School for Boys, where for more than 100 years children were abused—or worse—at the hands of the state. Estimates are that nearly 100 boys died and were buried there before the facility was shut down in June 2011, and as recently as mid-July, University of South Florida forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle began an investigation of 27 possible graves at the site.


July 11th, 2019 • Featured, Quill Blog, Journalism Education
Excerpt: Bio explores pioneering AIDS reporter Randy Shilts’ wounded heart/determined soul

Randy Shilts was one of the pioneering reporters covering the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco. With his book, “And the Band Played On,” his voice helped shape mainstream understanding of not only the disease, but of gay culture. In an excerpt from his new book, “The Journalist of Castro Street: The Life of Randy Shilts” (University of Illinois Press), Andrew Stoner, an assistant professor at California State University, writes about his personal connection to Shilts and his work. 


June 24th, 2019 • Featured, Quill Blog, Freelancing, Journalism Education
Excerpt: In “Talk to Me,” a lesson learned on the importance of interview location

Whether you are a seasoned vet or a newcomer to the field, it’s never a bad idea to refresh or rethink your interview skills. In an excerpt from Dean Nelson’s recent book, “Talk to Me,” the forty-year veteran journalist whose byline has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, and more writes about his “tactical error” in interviewing Mexican president Vicente Fox and what he learned about the importance of location.