A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists


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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.


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 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 13th, 2020 • Odds and Ends
Bookshelf: “Author in Chief: The Untold Story of our Presidents and the Books They Wrote”

About 10 years ago, journalist and historian Craig Fehrman got an idea for a book. It would be a book about the books that presidents write. Pretty simple, right? Just make a list of all of those books, read them and then tell people about what you’ve read.


February 3rd, 2020 • Featured, Freelance Toolbox, Odds and Ends
Studies show…or maybe they don’t

Misinterpreted data and unsubstantiated conclusions plague press and social media. What can journalists do to stop them? Quill asked Rob Pyatt, who has presented workshops focused on teaching critical thinking skills, to chime in on the subject. Pyatt, an assistant professor in the New Jersey Center for Science, Technology and Mathematics at Kean University, is certified in Clinical Molecular Genetics and serves as a director of the Oxy-Gen Laboratory in Norcross, Georgia. 


January 22nd, 2020 • Featured, Ten With...
10 with Al Letson

Bringing with him a résumé that included work as a hip-hop musician, a slam poet, a playwright, a performer and even a comic book author, Al Letson joined The Center for Investigative Reporting to help launch and host public radio’s first hourlong investigative journalism show, “Reveal.”


December 20th, 2019 • Featured, From the President
From the President: Women have long been a force at SPJ

Since the days of Nellie Bly – and likely before – women have been a force in journalism. They lead newsrooms. They win Pulitzer Prizes. They fill pages and screens with high-quality, can’t-miss coverage. And in my world – journalism higher ed – they fill far more classroom seats than their male counterparts.


December 19th, 2019 • Featured, Journalist on Call
Hicks: Media essential in impeachment understanding

Much of the evidence introduced during the House impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump was accessible to Americans through the news media and online sites. This allowed unprecedented access to hours of testimony, the opportunity to review documents and, ostensibly, to judge the case against Trump for themselves.


December 13th, 2019 • Featured, Toolbox
Toolbox: What’s to like (and not like) about “likes” leaving Instagram? 

Instagram has begun hiding likes. Well, from the public. You, as a user, will still be able to see your own likes once this reaches all accounts, but your followers (and their followers and their friends), won’t be able to see your likes.


October 1st, 2019 • Featured, Quill Archives, Ethics Toolbox
The SPJ Code of Ethics at 110

As the Society of Professional Journalists celebrates its 110th anniversary in 2019, it may come as a surprise that SPJ did not have its signature Code of Ethics for the group’s first 17 years. In 1909 when the young men at DePauw University founded SPJ as a college fraternity, Sigma Delta Chi, one of their goals was “to advance the standards of the press by fostering a higher ethical code.”


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.


September 4th, 2019 • Featured, Quill Archives, From the President
From the President: Carpe diem

One hundred ten years ago, 10 young men dressed in black and white ceremoniously entered the chapel at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. and pledged their faith to the power of journalism. Their youthful idealism gave rise to the Society of Professional 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.