A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists


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September 21st, 2022 • Featured, From the President
From the President: I’ve seen the future

While we can’t look ahead five, ten or twenty years to see what the future looks like for the Society of Professional Journalists, I’m confident it will be bigger and stronger than ever. Why? Because I’ve seen the next generation of professionals coming out of dozens of SPJ student chapters around the country.


September 20th, 2022 • Featured, Odds and Ends
UPDATED: 150 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 “150 Journalism Movies Ranked.” And we have no intention of stopping.


June 10th, 2022 • Quill Archives, From the President
From the President: Chapters take the lead

The Society of Professional Journalists is a strong organization in part because of our chapters, where local journalists often turn for support when challenged, attacked or even put in danger doing their jobs. Here are just a few examples of how our chapter leaders have stepped in to defend and protect journalists.


April 12th, 2022 • Featured, Quill Archives, Ten With...
10 with Lars Willnat

Every 10 years since 1982, researchers for “The American Journalist” survey a representative sample of journalists throughout the United States to understand who makes up the profession and their attitudes toward it. Leading the survey this year is Lars Willnat, the John Ben Snow Endowed Research Professor in the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.


March 18th, 2022 • Featured, Quill Archives, From the President
From the President: Communities make a difference

Since becoming president of the Society of Professional Journalists, I’ve constantly talked about #SPJStrong. We are a strong organization in part because we have two communities that bring journalists together for a common cause. If you’re a freelancer looking to expand your network, find a job lead or join a supportive group, all you have to do is turn to the SPJ Freelance Community.


March 8th, 2022 • Featured, Quill Archives, Words & Language Toolbox
Is That the Right Word?

Racking your brain for the right word is particularly grueling on deadline. Are paramedics attempting to stanch the bleeding after a mass shooting? Or should that be staunch? And was the lawyer riffling through her notes, or rifling? Did the defense refute or rebut the arguments?


February 15th, 2022 • Featured, Quill Archives, Ethics Toolbox
Code Breakers

Violations of journalism ethics come in a variety of types, many of which were committed in 2021. Some happen because of bad judgment, some are committed by journalists who know they are wrong and some come from maintaining the status quo without question.


February 8th, 2022 • Featured, Quill Archives, Ten With...
10 with Apoorva Mandavilli

You may recognize Apoorva Mandavilli’s name due to the sheer number of COVID-19 stories bylined by The New York Times health and science reporter. Her background in both science and reporting on other infectious diseases truly prepared her for this moment.


January 31st, 2022 • Featured, Quill Archives, Digital Media Toolbox
Eyes in the skies: Getting the most out of satellite data and images

On May 13, 2021, the British Antarctic Survey observed a massive chunk of ice breaking off Antarctica. A generation ago, journalists would have had very little specific information to write about such an event. But in this case, we almost knew immediately that the iceberg A-76 measured around 4,320 square kilometers (about 1,668 square miles) in size, making it the largest berg in the world at that point.


January 4th, 2022 • Featured, Quill Archives, From the President, SPJ Report
From the President: #SPJChapterStrong

SPJ professional and student chapters are the backbone of our organization. Often the “boots on the ground” for our local journalists, student journalists and journalism educators, they play a big part in the strength of SPJ. That’s why I’m devoting my Quill columns to our chapters, whether they are standing up for the rights of journalists, raising scholarship money or giving students a place to grow their network on campus.


December 20th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Digital Media Toolbox
SPJ Journalist’s Toolbox Tool of the Month: Quick-and-Dirty Fact-Checking Tools to Help You Get it Right

I’ve been posting fact-checking tools to Journalist’s Toolbox for more than a quarter of a century. Verification is at the core of what we do as journalists, and having good resources at our fingertips. Here are a few of my “quick-and-dirty” tools I’ve been using to fact-check stories, photos and video: The Google Fact Check Explorer tracks if a story has been fact-checked by an independent source.


November 8th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Digital Media Toolbox
SPJ Journalist’s Toolbox Tool of the Month: Resize Social Media Images in Sprout Social’s Landscape Tool

A few years ago at a training at the University of Cincinnati, a participant asked me about sizing social media images. Her problem: How can the social media desk properly size an image to fit in a Facebook header, Twitter feed and Instagram in just a few minutes.


November 4th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, People and Places
2021 Fellow Feature: Clarence Page

Now a syndicated columnist for the Chicago Tribune, journalist Clarence Page has covered the news for over 50 years, beginning his career in his high school newsroom and working for local Ohio publications including the Middletown Journal. Landing at the Tribune, the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist’s coverage is now a staple in households across America.


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.