A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists


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October 14th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Digital Media Toolbox
SPJ Journalist’s Toolbox Tool of the Month: Create Layered Maps in Google MyMaps

Google MyMaps is the perfect tool for mapping small datasets for dayturn stories and projects. Have a dataset of pothole repairs in your city? Map it. Tracking crime in certain neighborhoods? Load a spreadsheet from your police department into MyMaps. There are thousands of stories to be found in datasets on your city, county, state and federal data portals.


October 8th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Ethics Toolbox
Hicks: Colorado fabrication further erodes trust in journalism

There are countless reasons why many Americans do not trust information reported by journalists, and no one change will turn that around. But each reporting infraction pushes the trust meter in the wrong direction, even if incrementally.  The latest breach occurred in Boulder, Colorado, at the Daily Camera, where the newspaper published a nearly 900-word retraction on Page 1 pointing out an extensive list of problems with a story, including numerous false quotations. 


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.


September 20th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, People and Places
2021 Fellows Feature: Barbara Walters

Barbara Walters, who would become one of 20th century television journalism’s most well-known faces, almost didn’t enter the field. TV was in its infancy when she graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1951, and her personal background hardly pointed toward a career in the new medium.


September 13th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Digital Media Toolbox, Education Toolbox
SPJ Journalist’s Toolbox Tool of the Month: Tools in the classroom. Plus: Replacing “very”

With the school year underway, let’s explore how to implement Journalist’s Toolbox into a classroom rather than focus on a single tool this month. College professors and high school journalism teachers have used the site for more than 25 years, mainly for research purposes.


September 9th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, People and Places
2021 Fellow Feature: Yamiche Alcindor

Yamiche Alcindor sees her role as seeking the truth on behalf of Americans and telling stories in ways that connect to their lives. Alcindor is White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour and moderator of “Washington Week,” a PBS news analysis show anchored for years by her late mentor, Gwen Ifill.


September 3rd, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, From the President
From the President: Building by listening

I’ve done a lot of listening in my year as national president of the Society of Professional Journalists. The best membership organizations are built around listening. I think back now to the first moments of my term, when I gave an inaugural speech in shorts and a jacket from my bedroom, my youngest daughter lying on the floor outside my closed door, listening.


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, Digital Media Toolbox
SPJ Journalist’s Toolbox Tool of the Month: How to build a cool chart in Google Flourish — Handout + video

Google purchased the Flourish graphics tool five years ago, and it has evolved into an excellent tool for creating animated charts, maps and other interactives using only a spreadsheet. The tool includes a paid account for developers to code and add watermarks, but the free version of Flourish meets most newsrooms’ needs.


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.


August 4th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Ethics Toolbox
Researchers: Knowledge of SPJ Code of Ethics helps students better navigate ethical issues

College journalists who were familiar with the SPJ Code of Ethics, had taken an ethics course or had other exposure to ethical decision making were more likely to identify unethical behavior in scenarios posed to them in a survey by two South Carolina researchers.


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 12th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Digital Media Toolbox
SPJ Journalist’s Toolbox Tool of the Month: Video Editing on VN Smartphone App

There are many good smartphone video editing apps on the market, but for my work, the VN video editing app for iPhone and Android gets the job done better than any other tool based on ease of use and powerful controls.


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 28th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, People and Places, Ten With...
10 with Lindsay Peoples Wagner

Named editor-in-chief at biweekly The Cut in January, Lindsay Peoples Wagner took the reins of the fashion magazine after serving in the same role at Teen Vogue — where she was the youngest and among the few Black journalists serving as editor-in-chief of a Condé Nast publication.


June 14th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Digital Media Toolbox
SPJ Journalist’s Toolbox Tool of the Month: Tools for Visualizing the Census, Part II

If you need to visualize U.S. Census data, unemployment statistics or other datasets quick and with no spreadsheets or coding, give the Google Public Data Explorer a try. The Data Explorer is linked into several official databases, including the census, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Eurostat, the Inter-American Development Bank, World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund.


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.


May 10th, 2021 • Featured, Toolbox, Quill Archives, Digital Media Toolbox
SPJ Journalist’s Toolbox Tool of the Month: Tools for Visualizing the Census, Part I

There are many ways to visualize data from the U.S. Census. Next month, we’ll explore chart-making software to visualize demographic data. But this month we’ll explore how to visualize physical change with Google Earth Engine Timelapse. Earth Engine is a project organized by Google, Carnegie Mellon, the US Geological Survey and NASA.


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 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


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.


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 8th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Toolbox, Quill Archives, Digital Media Toolbox
SPJ Journalist’s Toolbox Tools of the Month: Transcription favorites

Reporters hate transcribing notes and they often ask me during newsroom training what tools work best. They want speed and accuracy with the transcriptions, and they want it free (or very cheap). I’ve listed many tools on the Toolbox’s Transcription Tools page, but here are my three favorites for speed, use and cost: Otter.ai:


February 1st, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, People and Places
2020 Fellow Interview: Marty Baron

Note: This story was published in Quill in 2020, prior to Marty Baron’s retirement announcement.   It’s been a bumpy year so far, but Marty Baron makes sure to wear a helmet for the ride. Baron, a regular cyclist, is executive editor of The Washington Post and plans to edit the publication at least through the 2020 election.


January 22nd, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Toolbox, Quill Archives, Digital Media Toolbox
SPJ Journalist’s Toolbox Tool of the Month: Google Dataset Search

Editor’s note: This is the first of what will be monthly posts about how to use digital and data tools on Journalist’s Toolbox. Check back each month for new tools, tips and tricks. Google launched its Dataset Search tool in November 2018 to help researchers locate data that is freely available for use.


January 15th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Journalist on Call
Groups say frontline journalists at-risk, seek vaccination priority

UPDATE: The CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan lists the media as essential workers to be given the vaccine in Phase 1c. This places them after people aged 65 years or older and other essential workers including healthcare workers, first responders, grocery store workers, public transit workers and teachers.


January 13th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Ten With...
10 with “In the Dark” podcaster Madeleine Baran

For the past three years, Madeleine Baran and the team behind the “In the Dark” podcast have worked to uncover the truth behind the case against Curtis Flowers. Flowers was convicted for the 1996 murders of four people inside the Tardy Furniture store in Winona, Mississippi.


December 15th, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Freedom of the Prez, From the President, Membership
From the President: Doubling down on SPJ

It was 229 years ago, on Dec. 15, 1791, that this nation adopted the 45 words of the First Amendment. And that set the foundation for everything our free press has done since. On that same date, in 1971, my parents welcomed me into the world and named me after Henry David Thoreau — and set the foundation for everything I’ve done since.