A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists


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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.


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?


June 14th, 2019 • From the President
Countering this disinformation tsunami

In 2016, the world woke up to the reality that freedom of expression itself had been weaponized. The enemies of strong democratic values had learned a new trick. They had turned the power of self-expression on social media platforms — which only five years earlier had helped unleash the natural desire for self-determination in the Arab Spring — into a cloaking device that allowed them to wage a surreptitious influence campaign.


March 19th, 2019 • Featured, Quill Blog, Journalist on Call
Sacramento residents assess media coverage in wake of Stephon Clark shooting

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Residents across Sacramento said they generally are pleased with the breadth and accuracy of the local news media’s coverage related to the death of Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old unarmed black man killed last year by two police officers.


March 1st, 2019 • Quill Archives, From the President
Listen to Your Own Little (Wo)man

Barton Keyes personifies the ideal insurance claims adjuster in the classic, and must-see, film noir “Double Indemnity.” Although he’s neither a journalist nor a real person, the character portrayed by the inimitable Edward G. Robinson is worth emulating. What truly sets him apart is the Little Man who dwells in the pit of his stomach.


December 16th, 2018 • Ten With...
From intern to owner: Ten with Katherine Rowlands

Three decades ago, Katherine Ann Rowlands started her career in journalism as an intern at Bay City News Service. Now, she’s the owner of the 24/7 news service that covers the greater San Francisco Bay Area. BCN, founded in 1979 with eight offices around the region, provides news feeds to about 100 clients, including TV, radio, digital and print newsrooms.


December 15th, 2018 • Featured, Quill Blog, Diversity, Journalist on Call
How the New York Times maintains its credibility

For 167 years, The New York Times has rigorously investigated important national and world issues and written about them with sophistication for a curious and cultured audience. There have been some serious breaches along the way, including the revelation in 2003 that one of its reporters had been fabricating details of stories and copying the work of journalists at other newspapers.


December 5th, 2018 • Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Diversity, Ten With...
Ten with Jacqueline Thomas

Jacqueline Thomas, an award-winning writer and editor, was once Washington bureau chief for The Detroit News. She’s appalled by the rhetoric against journalists coming from The White House these days and wants journalists to push back. “When I was a Washington bureau chief, I never had to deal with this many attacks from the White House,” Thomas said.


December 5th, 2018 • Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Journalist on Call
When reporting stories, consider the sources

Selecting the right sources to quote and use to tell stories is helpful to increasingly skeptical news consumers confounded by a 24-hour news cycle and mobile devices overrun with false rumors and inaccurate information. Choosing the wrong sources could cause them to question the trustworthiness of a story and the news organization that published or broadcast it.


November 23rd, 2018 • Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Diversity, Diversity Toolbox
Covering social movements: Learn the community, relay context

Journalists and Baltimore residents have suggested ways to improve coverage of protests and social movements, such as those that followed the arrest and death of Freddie Gray in the city three years ago. Baltimore officers alleged Gray, a 25-year-old black man, had an illegal knife when they arrested him after a chase.


November 20th, 2018 • Freedom of the Prez, From the President
Championing global press freedom

PARIS — More than an ocean separates the United States from France. The contradictory world views of their leaders veered sharply into focus on the centennial of World War I. Hours after making the now famous Armistice Day pronouncement beneath the Arc de Triomphe that “patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” President Emmanuel Macron of France introduced an event launching a global initiative for freedom of information and democracy.


September 30th, 2018 • Quill Blog, Ethics Toolbox
10 lessons in journalism ethics

My tenure as the Society of Professional Journalists’ ethics committee chairperson began in September 2014. A Minneapolis news station would broadcast a story now known as #Pointergate in early November. Rolling Stone would publish its now-infamous story on sexual assault a couple of weeks later. 


September 18th, 2018 • Toolbox, Quill Archives, Freelance Toolbox, Freelancing
2017 law means changes for freelancers’ taxes

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) included several provisions that affect how independent journalists are taxed on their business income. We asked Matthew Apodaca, a certified public accountant and executive vice president at NCH Tax & Wealth Advisors in Fullerton, California, to help us understand the current tax situation for freelancers.


September 12th, 2018 • Quill Blog, Ten With...
Ten with New York Times Bureau Chief Manny Fernandez

Manny Fernandez, Houston bureau chief for The New York Times, was the editor of his Fresno, California, school newspaper, The Viking Times, in eighth grade. Since then, journalism has been not just a career but a calling. His first full-time job was with the San Francisco Chronicle, where in 1998 he spent months with a group of young homeless people for a series called “Nobody’s Child.”


August 29th, 2018 • Featured, Quill Archives, Freedom of Information, Journalist on Call
Annapolis community: Slain journalists ‘were part of us’

ANNAPOLIS, Md.  — When Jessie Haynes first heard about a shooting at the Capital Gazette, across the street from the mall where she works, she assumed it was carried out by someone featured unfavorably in a news story. It didn’t cross her mind, as it did many journalists across the country, that the shooter might have been inspired to attack a newsroom by rhetoric coming from the U.S.


August 17th, 2018 • Featured, Journalist on Call
Why the #FreePress editorials were not enough

Thursday was a proud day for journalists. Hundreds of newspapers and other media organizations explained the important role they play in their communities or the country and asserted they are not “enemies of the people” as the president has frequently said.


July 2nd, 2018 • Quill Blog, Words & Language Toolbox
Take this quiz to help refresh your writing

Nothing annoys readers like having to plow through a litter of errors on their way to a period. And because even professional writers can get rusty regarding the basics, it’s a good idea to check on one’s recall from time to time.


June 18th, 2018 • Quill Blog, Narrative Writing Toolbox
Turn your ideas into stories

During my 40 years in the business, I’ve learned to listen to anyone who tells me they have a story. Great stories come unannounced, like a soft tap on the door. You need to be alert to that sound. The series that turned out to be the story that won me the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2001 came from a telephone call to me from a reader.


June 15th, 2018 • Quill Blog, Ten With...
Ten Questions with Christine MacDonald

Christine MacDonald was raised in Michigan, went to college in Michigan and has spent her 20-year career as a journalist at four Michigan newspapers, the past 15 at the Detroit News. That dedication to local journalism gave MacDonald the foundation to publish a series of articles about housing problems and evictions in Detroit, which earned her a Sigma Delta Chi Award in Public Service Journalism (Daily Circulation of 50,001-100,000).


April 27th, 2018 • Quill Blog, Ethics Toolbox
Transparency on full display in Garrison Keillor case

As Minnesota prepared for an early April storm that would dump over a foot of snow in the Twin Cities, Minnesota Public Radio and Garrison Keillor struck a deal. Nearly five months after MPR and its parent company, American Public Media Group, severed ties with Keillor over accusations of sexual harassment, Keillor and MPR reached an agreement where the archives of the two programs for which he worked, The Writer’s Almanac and A Prairie Home Companion, would be restored.


March 28th, 2018 • Words & Language Toolbox
This checklist will help you edit faster and better

A reader had a question: “You say in The Book on Writing that we should write fast and edit slowly. As a reporter, I found that advice helpful, and I’ve tried to follow it. Problem is, I’m now a copy editor — and I edit too slowly.


March 19th, 2018 • From the President
To regain trust, journalists should tell our own story

How can the media rebuild public trust? That’s a question journalists have grappled with for decades. But now it’s more important than ever to examine the causes of and possible solutions to this vexing problem. The good news is that most people value accurate, well-told news stories.


March 12th, 2018 • Ten With...
Ten Questions with Jim Acosta

It was fewer than 10 days before Donald Trump’s inauguration when he berated CNN and its reporter, Jim Acosta, during a news conference at Trump Tower. “Quiet,” Trump told Acosta as the reporter tried to answer a question. “Don’t be rude, don’t be rude.”


November 2nd, 2017 • Quill Archives, Narrative Writing Toolbox
Energize yourself with a new writing approach

I wrote in the last issue about a young reporter who discovered the critical importance of picking the right character upon which to build a story. Now I want to introduce you to Jen Kocher, a reporter for a weekly newspaper in Wyoming.


November 2nd, 2017 • From the President
It’s time for SPJ to go public

“Seek truth and report it.” What a challenge those five words have proved to be. Figures in government at all levels are making it harder to find, let alone report, the truth. And elected officials have found it easy to scream “Fake news!”


June 14th, 2017 • Quill Archives, Ten With...
Ten with Angelo Lopez

Angelo Lopez came to California in 1974 and hasn’t left. It wasn’t a gold rush that brought him, but he did live the somewhat nomadic lifestyle of a prospector moving from place to place as a self-described “Navy brat.” Born in Norfolk, Virginia, to Filipino parents, he spent his youth on military bases on the U.S.


April 13th, 2017 • Quill Archives, Ten With...
Ten with Washington Post Columnist Margaret Sullivan

It’s a cliché in journalism to find people who say they always knew what they wanted to be. Margaret Sullivan doesn’t exactly say that, but she admits that she only remembers having one serious idea of what she wanted to be.


February 22nd, 2017 • Quill Archives, Ten With...
Ten with Tara Gatewood

Nothing in Tara Gatewood’s career went according to plan. If it had, she says, she would be a photographer somewhere doing “amazing shoots.” Her interest in journalism — and course of study — started with photography at Montgomery College in Maryland, having moved from her home in the Isleta Pueblo tribal community in New Mexico.