A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists


April 4th, 2023 • Quill Archives
Covering the COVID-19 origin debate

For about 24 hours in March, it looked as though the fierce, long-running debate over the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic might be close to resolution. First with the story was reporter Katherine J. Wu of The Atlantic, in a March 16 piece entitled “The Strongest Evidence Yet That An Animal Started the Pandemic.”


March 18th, 2023 • Quill Blog | #Quill Archives | #Freedom of Information
Officials in California destroyed public records. Now the spotlight is on them.

During Sunshine Week four years ago, I had the opportunity to thank California state Sen. Nancy Skinner for her work at an SPJ Northern California Pro Chapter awards ceremony.  Skinner had just authored California’s most consequential government transparency law in generations, Senate Bill 1421, which made police records relating to shootings and other serious incidents public.


March 16th, 2023 • Quill Archives
New “Boston Strangler” and nine more films added to Quill’s Journalism Movies list

Some recent releases (including the March 17 newcomer “Boston Strangler”) some older films and one western classic have been added to our growing Journalism Movies Ranked list. The unprecedented compendium now names and reviews 170 flicks. To find out where these rank on our list, visit here. 


March 10th, 2023 • Quill Archives
NY court agrees: You have the right to see police disciplinary records

Scrutiny of police activity has been a hot-button issue in recent years, and days, both nationally and locally. It goes without saying that law enforcement officials have an almost impossible job. With mass shootings an almost weekly occurrence and the unpredictability of violent crime, those who protect us face unimaginable obstacles.


February 16th, 2023 • Quill Archives
Women at war and the lessons learned

Among the first female war correspondents was Martha Gellhorn, who wrote for Collier’s magazine. Gellhorn faced challenges when covering World War II, including from her husband, Ernest Hemingway, whose telegram to her shortly after their marriage made clear the sexism she endured.


February 10th, 2023 • Quill Archives | #Ten With...
10 with Greg Agvent

When it comes to using drones for newsgathering, Greg Agvent is the closest thing the industry has to a wisdom-filled graybeard. That’s because the concept of gathering pictures and video with small, remotely controlled aerial vehicles only caught on during the last decade.


February 3rd, 2023 • Quill Archives | #Ethics Toolbox
Wrestling with trust vs. attention when breaking news

In June 2022, new CNN CEO Chris Licht issued a memo to staffers to reduce the network’s usage of the “breaking news” graphic on air.   “Something I have heard from both people inside and outside the organization is complaints we overuse the ‘Breaking News’ banner,” Licht wrote in a copy of the memo obtained by Variety.


January 19th, 2023 • Quill Archives | #Ethics Toolbox
Focusing on photography ethics

Just a few weeks into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, photojournalist Lynsey Addario captured a photo of a civilian casualty that spoke to the atrocity of the war. While located at an evacuation route in Irpin, she witnessed the death of a family killed by a mortar.


January 19th, 2023 • Quill Archives | #From the President
From the President: Reuniting SPJ

If there’s a line from a song that sums up MediaFest22, it’s got to be this one from the 1979 hit by R&B duo Peaches & Herb: Reunited and it feels so good … After two virtual conferences, more than 700 SPJ members gathered in the nation’s capital for three days of camaraderie, connections and collaboration.


January 6th, 2023 • Quill Archives | #Ethics Toolbox
Conduits of misinformation

After interviewing U.S. Sen. Rick Scott about the challenges of rebuilding areas of Florida decimated by deadly Hurricane Ian, Margaret Brennan, host of CBS’s “Face the Nation,” attempted to wrap up with an unrelated question about recent “disturbing rhetoric” from former President Donald Trump and U.S.


December 7th, 2022 • Featured
2022 Journalist’s Gift Guide

In addition to the important news itself, a good Sunday paper is a combination of the smart, the useful and the fun. We employed that same trio as our mantra in seeking out items for this year’s holiday gift guide for journalists.


December 5th, 2022 • Featured | #Quill Archives
2022 Fellows Feature: Bill Whitaker

A staple in broadcast media, Emmy-winning journalist Bill Whitaker has graced American televisions since 1979. Stints in San Francisco, Charlotte and Atlanta led to CBS News, where he served as correspondent in Tokyo and, later, Los Angeles, where he was frequently seen reporting for “CBS Evening News.”


December 1st, 2022 • Quill Digital Archives
Winter 2022

SPJ Quill Winter 2022


November 30th, 2022 • Featured | #Quill Archives
2022 Fellows Feature: Clarissa Ward

CNN Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward often cites her “peripatetic upbringing” as the spark for her wanderlust. Born in London, the only child of an American mother and British father, she moved to Manhattan, then back again to London, with a rotating cast of nannies (11 by the time she was 8) along the way.


November 22nd, 2022 • Quill Blog
“She Said,” “Vengeance” and more added to Quill’s ranked journalism movie list

We’ve added ten more films to our growing Journalism Movies Ranked list, including the just-released “She Said” and such old-school eyebrow-raisers as “Francis Covers the Big Town.” The list now names and reviews 160 flicks. To find out where these rank on our list, visit here.


November 18th, 2022 • Featured | #Quill Archives
2022 Fellow Feature: John Quiñones

For over five decades, ABC news veteran John Quiñones has shared stories of those who have experienced abuse, injustice or hardship at the hands of the powerful people or institutions whose actions disproportionately impact the lives of others. As a reporter for “World News Tonight” and “20/20,” anchor on “Primetime” and host of the wildly popular “What Would You Do?”


October 21st, 2022 • Quill Archives
Bookshelf: Authors find Espionage Act long used to attempt to control journalists

A little more than a century ago, the U.S. government passed a law designed, on its face, to protect national secrets. In their book, Ralph Engelman and Carey Shenkman outline how the Espionage Act of 1917 actually was created to control the flow of information and inhibit the practice of journalism.


October 14th, 2022 • Quill Archives
2022 Fellow Feature: Roland Martin

SPJ launched the Fellows of the Society program in 1948 and has named three or more Fellows every year since. Roland Martin is among the 2022 recipients of this, the organization’s highest honor. When Roland Martin decided at age 14 that he would establish a career in journalism, he also decided he wouldn’t limit himself to just one medium.


October 11th, 2022 • Quill Archives
LA judge rules against media over arbitrary records fees 

A Louisiana state judge has upheld the authority of the chief executive of the city and parish of Lafayette to begin charging $1 per page for digital copies of public records, even though the fees apply only to three media outlets. 


October 10th, 2022 • Quill Archives
2022 Fellow Feature: Jerry Green

SPJ launched the Fellows of the Society program in 1948 and has named three or more Fellows every year since. Jerry Green is among the 2022 recipients of this, the organization’s highest honor.   When he began his newspaper career, he wrote his stories on a heavy old portable typewriter, but these days he’s as apt to use his iPhone as anything else.


October 3rd, 2022 • Quill Archives
Bookshelf: Veteran journalist celebrates community newspapers as “Beacons in the Darkness” 

Newspapers face existential threats these days, but none have it tougher than small town papers. Like their big-city brethren, they’re fighting everything from plummeting advertising revenue to readership declines to the onslaught of fake news — all on shoestring budgets and with minuscule staffs.


September 22nd, 2022 • Quill Archives
Former media relations head: Restrictions tightened on CDC reporting long before the pandemic

The last three to four decades have seen a surge in restrictions in public agencies, businesses and others banning employees from contact with reporters without the authorities’ oversight. To better understand where we are and how we got to this point, Kathryn Foxhall, vice chair of the SPJ Freedom of Information Committee, spoke with Glen Nowak, a former media relations head at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and now associate dean for research and graduate studies, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Georgia.


September 21st, 2022 • 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 | #Quill Blog | #Odds and Ends
UPDATED: 180 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 “180 Journalism Movies Ranked.” And we have no intention of stopping.


September 12th, 2022 • Featured | #Quill Blog
Staying Safe Amid Journalism’s Rising Risks

The stunning recent murder of Las Vegas Review Journal investigative reporter Jeff German was as unexpected as it was frightening and is shining a renewed spotlight on the risks of reporting — even in the United States. German was well-known for reporting on government corruption, organized crime and wrongdoing for decades working first for the Las Vegas Sun and then the Las Vegas Review-Journal.


September 1st, 2022 • Quill Digital Archives
Fall 2022

SPJ Quill Fall 2022


August 16th, 2022 • Featured | #Quill Archives
Capitalizing on the Nation’s Capital

With the Society of Professional Journalists holding its annual convention in the nation’s capital in October, it’s a good time to take a look at what that town has to offer the working journalists. After all, news is the lifeblood of D.C.


July 25th, 2022 • Quill Archives
10 with Ayesha Rascoe

The new host of NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday” as of March, Ayesha Rascoe set out to become a journalist at an early age. Her first writing experience was as a columnist for the teen section of her hometown newspaper, the Durham Herald-Sun.


July 18th, 2022 • Featured | #Quill Archives
Traveling Blues

Susan Glaser, travel editor for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com, still wistfully recalls her final pre-COVID trip before the world went into lockdown and tanked her livelihood. “I went to northern Kentucky to visit a bourbon trail right before everything shut down,” Glaser said.


July 6th, 2022 • Featured | #Quill Archives | #Diversity
“Sorry” state: Should newspapers apologize for their pasts?

The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina, partnered with white supremacists to intimidate black voters in the 1890s yet remains a respected newspaper today, writer Alexandria Neason noted in a story last year. “Americans have short memories; we don’t like to be reminded of our many sins, so instead we prop up lofty narratives of progress and unity that obscure the violence enacted along the way,” Neason wrote for the Columbia Journalism Review.


June 23rd, 2022 • Featured | #Quill Archives
Graphic depictions: Long-form comics as journalism

In December of 1991, the comics artist Art Spiegelman, author of the two-volume graphic novel “Maus,” wrote a letter to the editors of The New York Times. After thanking them for acknowledging the unexpected success of his book, which had recently made the Times’ bestseller list, he expressed a concern about “Maus” appearing on the fiction side of the list.


June 22nd, 2022 • Quill Archives
Bookshelf: The Future of Business Journalism: Why It Matters for Wall Street and Main Street 

Although he’s considered an expert on business journalism, authored a business-journalism textbook and spent much of his career covering business, Chris Roush got his start like a lot of journalists: covering cops and courts and other basic news. It taught him a lot, he says, about covering a beat, working with people and understanding news.