A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists


Toolbox


November 10th, 2016 • Quill Archives, Education Toolbox
Education Toolbox

On a warm summer night, I’m volunteering at the check-in desk at a community event. During a lull, I chat with a fellow volunteer. As often happens, the topic turns to work. After learning I’m a professor, he asks what I teach.


November 10th, 2016 • Quill Archives, Digital Media Toolbox
Digital Media Toolbox

In June, the New York Times Magazine published a 10,000-word article by Nikole Hannah-Jones about segregated schools in New York City. Those who read the article online or on mobile devices may have noticed a subtle multimedia element buried halfway through the content: a graphic showing the shifting school zones for two Brooklyn schools.


November 10th, 2016 • Quill Archives, Narrative Writing Toolbox
Narrative Writing Toolbox

From time to time I receive emails from young journalists who want to eventually move into feature reporting, but they find themselves on a beat where they tell me they have no chance to work on storytelling skills. My first gig was at a weekly newspaper where I covered four small towns.


November 10th, 2016 • Quill Archives, Freelance Toolbox
Freelance Toolbox

I recently decided to become a full-time freelance journalist after working in the field part time over the past few years. As a full-time doctoral student, I knew I needed to do something that allowed for a flexible schedule and fulfilled my academic needs as well.


November 10th, 2016 • Quill Archives, Words & Language Toolbox
Words & Language Toolbox

I get lots of reader queries about that and which. Here’s a typical email: “I’m pretty good at grammar and usage, but apparently I don’t have a clue about the correct use of which and that. There’s some principle at work here that I don’t understand.


November 10th, 2016 • Quill Archives, Ethics Toolbox
Ethics Toolbox

The SPJ Ethics Committee handles a lot of issues that, as expected, involve news outlets representing all kinds of media. What may surprise some people is that we also deal with a lot of issues involving non-fiction books. These issues often involve works that could be classified as creative non-fiction.


February 17th, 2016 • Quill Archives, Education Toolbox
Education Toolbox

Last fall, college journalists across the country reported about diversity issues on campus, sometimes involving classmates raising awareness of racism, discrimination and threats. These issues came to our campus at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., with an unprecedented action: The administration canceled classes for one day, concerned about threats on social media toward students of color.


February 17th, 2016 • Quill Archives, Digital Media Toolbox
Digital Media Toolbox

In today’s digital-first news industry, priorities have turned to clicks and “attention minutes” and whatever the next big metric will be. But in all these analytics, how are we measuring readers’ understanding of news? Where is the metric showing that what we’re reporting is actually resonating with readers?


February 17th, 2016 • Quill Archives, Diversity Toolbox
Diversity Toolbox

As founder and editor of All Digitocracy, Tracie Powell keeps a close eye on media and its impact on diverse communities. Powell has not only reported and edited for more than a decade, she also has master’s degree in law and served as a legal clerk for the U.S.


February 17th, 2016 • Quill Archives, Narrative Writing Toolbox
Narrative Writing Toolbox

The New Year is less than a month old as I write this column, but I’m in a reflective mood. I hope it reaches a young reporter, perhaps someone at a weekly or small outlet, at your first “real” job after college.


February 17th, 2016 • Quill Archives, FOI Toolbox
FOI Toolbox

When Illinois journalist Susan Sarkauskas was denied access to a meeting of the Waubonsee Community College Board of Trustees last year, she could have filed a lawsuit alleging the board had violated the state’s Open Meetings Act. Instead, Sarkauskas simply wrote to the Illinois attorney general.


February 17th, 2016 • Quill Archives, Freelance Toolbox
Freelance Toolbox

I started freelancing nearly a decade ago, before the recession had taken hold. I’d worked at a community newspaper for several years, covering education, neighborhood news and the arts, and I wanted to explore new ground. At the time, it may have sounded risky to trade the downtown office for my sunroom, but the housing market hadn’t yet collapsed.


February 17th, 2016 • Quill Archives, Words & Language Toolbox
Words & Language Toolbox

I know a real-life Mrs. Malaprop, and it’s impossible not to grin when she speaks. Examples: She said she didn’t think her skin rash was generic because no one else in her family had it. She said that when she mentioned her favorite uncle, she meant Uncle Joe pacifically.


February 17th, 2016 • Quill Archives, Ethics Toolbox
Ethics Toolbox

Opinion writing or broadcasting is a challenging endeavor. Crafting persuasive prose requires a lot of brain power, and sometimes it’s difficult to know what ethical boundaries exist when arguing a specific position. The Weekender, an alternative weekly publication in Northeast Pennsylvania, recently published a column from a regular contributor about him and his friend pretending to be veterans of the U.S.


February 17th, 2016 • Quill Archives, Generation J Toolbox
Generation-J Toolbox

Let’s look at social media as just one cylinder in a four-cylinder car engine. Along with other cylinders — creditable sources, fluid time management and great journalism — the vehicle will run smoothly, get great mileage and sustain your journalism career.


December 15th, 2015 • Quill Archives, Education Toolbox
Education Toolbox

Educators use YouTube for education videos (think Kahn Academy), and media students and advisers are uploading broadcast videos to YouTube every day. Yet more educators — as a staff or individually — need to encourage students to use the medium as a means to gain valuable skills in journalism while they have fun.