A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists


June 27th, 2023 • Quill Archives | #From the President
From the President: Saluting SPJ’s pioneering women

Helen Thomas quieted the crowd and began her keynote address with a candid but rhetorical question.  “Where are all the women?” The legendary White House correspondent was dwarfed at the dais by two tiers of a mostly male board of directors in a ballroom filled with mostly male journalists at the SPJ annual convention in Atlanta 37 years ago. 


June 6th, 2023 • Featured
Navigating the legalities of defamation 

As a journalism professor, I instill in my young charges the importance of understanding and avoiding defamation. And the recent Fox News settlement drives that point home, serving as an example of how First Amendment protections often clash with libel and slander laws.  


May 22nd, 2023 • Quill Archives
Empathetic interviewing

Kerry Sheridan was less than a month into the master’s journalism program at Columbia University when terrorists’ planes hit the World Trade Center on 9/11. She was new to New York, new to the practice of advanced journalism — and she was suddenly on the front lines of a catastrophic national event whose impact would reverberate for decades to come.


May 15th, 2023 • Quill Archives | #Freelance Toolbox
Finding the fee in freelance

In most circles, it’s considered unsophisticated, uncouth and uncultured — and all of the other shameful “un” words — to talk about the money you make and the way you make it.  I don’t care. Let’s talk about it. As a freelancer, the matter of money involves a labyrinth of considerations, factors and variables, for which there is no universal solution that works for every writer or for every situation.


May 9th, 2023 • Quill Archives
Raising representation in student newsrooms

After a summer of nationwide protests following the police killing of George Floyd and outrage over the shooting death of a young Black man by a white bar owner in Omaha, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln student newspaper decided to make the value of Black lives the focus of its 2020 fall special edition.


April 28th, 2023 • Quill Archives
From Nixon to Trump with Woodward and Bernstein

Fifty years ago this May, the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities — aka the Senate Watergate Committee — began its televised hearings into the break-in at the Democratic National Committee Headquarters.  The must-see-TV broadcasts turned the likes of E.


April 25th, 2023 • Quill Archives
Freedom of the (student) press tested

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of the press, or it’s supposed to. But for high school journalists, a lot depends on what state they live in. Two episodes from last year illustrate the point.  Last summer, in Grand Island, Nebraska, the public school district shut down the Viking Saga, after this venerable high school paper published an issue dedicated to Pride Month and LGBTQ+ issues.


April 25th, 2023 • Quill Digital Archives
Summer 2023

SPJ Quill Summer 2023


April 24th, 2023 • Quill Digital Archives
Spring 2023

SPJ Quill Spring 2023


April 21st, 2023 • Quill Archives | #Ten With...
10 with Taylor Lorenz

Taylor Lorenz’s road to becoming a technology reporter featured many twists and turns. She started out by blogging on Tumblr and rose to internet stardom, soon realizing she could turn her passion into a reporting gig — but editors didn’t agree.


April 14th, 2023 • Quill Archives | #From the President
From the President: Linking generations of journalists

John C. Long and Ana Rocío Álvarez Bríñez have never met. But they are linked to the same Kentucky newsroom and, like all SPJ members, are driven by a passion for the profession.  Their paths to membership couldn’t be more diverse. 


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.