A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists


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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.


December 1st, 2020 • Featured, Quill Archives, People and Places
2020 Fellow Feature: Nikole Hannah-Jones

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones has been reporting on race, education and segregation for decades, picking up the MacArthur Fellowship, Polk and Peabody awards along the way. Now at The New York Times Magazine, where she created The 1619 Project, she said she’s “doing exactly what I’ve worked my entire career to do … The only reason I ever wanted to become a journalist was to write about racial inequalities.”


November 12th, 2020 • Featured, Toolbox, Quill Archives, Digital Media Toolbox
Journalist’s Toolbox at 25

Victor Hernandez preaches the gospel of newsroom productivity, whether he’s working with his reporters in the Crosscut newsroom in Seattle or training journalists at conferences around the country. Hernandez’s philosophy is simple: Think trends and not tools when finding digital resources that can make you more productive.


November 5th, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, People and Places
2020 Fellow Interview: Les Zaitz

No one would have faulted veteran investigative reporter Les Zaitz if, after retiring from The Oregonian in 2016, he’d kicked back at his east Oregon ranch with his wife and watched the world go by. What did a man who’d covered the Mount St.


October 29th, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, People and Places
2020 SPJ Fellow Tribute: Gwen Ifill

Gwen Ifill was a trailblazer and journalism icon with near-universal respect from peers for how she conducted her craft. She began her career in newspapers and moved to television networks, serving as moderator and managing editor of PBS’s “Washington Week” and co-anchor and managing editor of “PBS NewsHour” at the time of her death in 2016.


October 23rd, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, People and Places
2020 Fellow interview: Jorge Ramos

A breaking news event that occurred in the United States 39 years ago started longtime Univision anchor Jorge Ramos on his journalism career path. To help pay for college, the Mexico City native was working at a Mexico radio station. When then-U.S.


September 4th, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, From the President
From the President: Putting SPJ Fellows at the forefront

Throughout its 111 years of history, SPJ has created innumerable cherished traditions. Among them is the Fellows of the Society program, launched in 1948. In those 72 years the Society has named 214 fellows. Last year, at our annual fall convention, we honored Maria Ressa of Rappler, and retired Associated Press staffers Terry Anderson and Nick Ut, plus Jamal Khashoggi of The Washington Post posthumously.


June 22nd, 2020 • Quill Archives, From the President
From the President: Journalism, now more than ever

Of late, my T-shirt drawer bulges with pro-press slogans: Democracy Dies in Darkness, #Not the Enemy, I Back the First Amendment, America Needs Journalists and Journalism Matters Now More Than Ever. I’m thinking I’ll need a post-COVID-19 addition that reads: Yes, You Should Major in Journalism.


June 11th, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Diversity, Ten With...
10 with Nikole Hannah-Jones

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.


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.


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.


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 3rd, 2020 • Featured, Departments, Quill Archives
CDC sued over release of policies restricting free speech

CORRECTION: The headline for this story originally stated that the White House was being sued. The original FOIA request was for the CDC and the White House, but the subsequent lawsuit only names the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human services.


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 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 9th, 2020 • From the President
From the President: Facing off with fake news

As my year as SPJ president approached, I put “fight fake news” on my to-do list. I’ll respond to every nasty slam, every spurious tweet, every “enemy of the people” put-down with a counter-tweet of my own, I thought. A few tweets in – with low-impact “No, you are incorrect, Mr.