A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists


#First Amendment


January 3rd, 2024 • Quill Archives
The Press and the Police: How to handle interactions with law enforcement

When officers from the Marion Police Department showed up at Eric Meyer’s Kansas doorstep with a search warrant, the Marion County Record publisher and editor kept his cool despite being “incredulous and angry” that the raid, which he believed was unconstitutional, was a coordinated sweep on his home, the Record newsroom and a third location.


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.  


August 27th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives
Is Congress threatening press freedom by intimidating carriers?

Since government can’t censor news content, can it control it indirectly through threats and intimidation? A congressional inquiry this year led by Democrats hinted at it and attempted to examine whether conservative news media were responsible for inciting violence. The representatives said they were just asking questions.


May 26th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Archives, Bookshelf, Diversity
Bookshelf: Ken Ellingwood looks at journalism pioneer Elijah Lovejoy

Ken Ellingwood readily admits that the subject of his new book is not exactly a household name. But for anyone who believes mightily in the First Amendment, Elijah Lovejoy was a titan of its promise and protections. “First to Fall: Elijah Lovejoy and the Fight for a Free Press in the Age of Slavery” is Ellingwood’s deeply researched story of a man in the 1830s who used the power of the pen to speak out firmly against the horrors of slavery, fighting back harder with every death threat and unruly mob who came after him.


April 8th, 2021 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives
Understanding Shield Law

This feature celebrates one of SPJ’s four guiding principals: We are fighters for the First Amendment.    You’ve written a story that embarrassed someone who now wants the name of your protected source. Or perhaps a trial judge demands you testify and spill all.


June 8th, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog, Freedom of Information
Media relations controls marginalize the press … and the public 

As protests erupt in the wake of police brutality, one key point for journalists to remember is that many police agencies have enforced silence on police officers. And that creates an historically fearful secrecy.  In an SPJ-sponsored 2016 survey, 56% of police reporters said they can rarely or never interview a police officer without involving a department’s public information officer.


June 3rd, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog
Police and protesters: Please let journalists do their jobs

Sunday night, around 9:30 p.m. in downtown Atlanta, I stopped next to a tree to try and gather my thoughts and decide where to go next. I was on assignment for The Washington Post covering the George Floyd protests and, while just an hour earlier there had been a lot of action with tear gas and fireworks in the streets, the city’s curfew went into effect at 9 and for the most part all was quiet.