March 13, 2020

News, tips and advice from Quill and Scroll

The Lede

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

The news firehose continues to gush

Our newest Quill and Scroll inductees have not lived in a time like this, where monumental, earth-shaking news happens multiple times a day. Consider the following:

  • The COVID-19 worldwide pandemic is shutting down business, education and athletics in a way we haven’t seen since the Spanish flu more than 100 years ago.
  • Actor Tom Hanks and other celebrities are now testing positive for the virus.
  • Now we learn that Ivanka Trump, Attorney General William Barr, the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and others have been exposed to the virus.
  • The stock market is having its worst days since similar crashes in 1987 and 2008.
  • The U.S. military is retaliating against Iran by dropping bombs in Iraq.
  • The sports and entertainment industries are shutting down and slowing down dramatically to help slow the spread of the virus.

In summary, there is no shortage of news for you to delve into. And we have to ask ourselves at this moment what we can do as journalists and human beings.

Keep in mind that you are a unique individual who likely has a supportive network of friends, family and mentors like your teachers. You need to be serious about keeping yourself and your loved ones healthy.

Until the government is able to provide the entire population with COVID-19 tests, we have to err on the side of caution. DO NOT put your health, or the health of your fellow human beings at risk. That is your first priority.

Beyond that, if you choose to continue to do journalism during this time, the world needs accurate information. The world needs hopeful stories, stories of triumph and hope. Read this from the Student Press Law Center.

We need each other, and we need journalism — in that order.

Be well.

Stock market tanks on COVID-19 news

A topsy-turvy week on Wall Street continued Thursday as stocks dropped by nearly 10 percent to their lowest since 2017. Investors continue to be wary in the face of travel bans and the cancelation of events in the U.S. and around the world.

President Trump spoke to the nation on Wednesday night and issued a travel ban to most European countries, but not to the countries where he owns resorts. 

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday outlined what he thinks the federal government should do right now to help people most affected by the virus.

National HS journalism convention updates

As of Thursday, the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention said it plans to hold its spring meeting in Nashville, but the Columbia Scholastic Press Association canceled its annual convention in NYC.

Colorado adviser protection passes both houses

Colorado took one step closer to providing adviser protections to its Student Freedom of Expression Law when the state Senate HB20-1062. It now moves to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis, who is expected to sign it. The changes would go into effect on or about Aug. 1. Former high school journalism adviser/now State Rep. Barbara McLachlan (D-Durango) co-sponsored the bill.

It’s An Honor

WPM winners announced!

Iowa City West earned the Blue and Gold Award for Staff Excellence in the 2020 Writing, Photo and Multimedia Contest. You can view all the Blue and Gold winners in the video below, and the link above will allow you to see those and well as scroll (get it?) down to see all the individual contest winners. Congrats to everyone who entered. All school and individual awards are in the mail today!

Chapter of the Year deadline approaching

April 10 is the deadline to enter the Q&S Chapter of the Year contest. The entries are free, and you can win memberships, cords and a spot on the Q&S national Student Advisory Board. Do it now!


Adviser scholarship applications are due April 15. You can earn $500 that you can apply to a program of study at a university or to a summer learning experience such as the JEA Advisers Institute.

Quill and Scroll members as well as seniors who earned a prize (including all honorable mentions) in Quill and Scroll contests over their high school careers are eligible to apply for student scholarships. The top prize this year is $1,500. You must plan to major in journalism or a related field in college. The application is free. Deadline is May 10.

Summer Workshops

Quill and Scroll encourages students and advisers alike to expand their journalistic skills and knowledge by going to a summer institute this year. They’re fun and valuable. Check out our partners here.

What’s Viral?

Unintended irony

Trust us, we understand in the new COVID-19 world how ironic it is to call this section “What’s Viral?” We’ll keep the name for the time being, but we’ll keep checking every week to make sure we haven’t jumped the shark.

Professional and amateur athletics cancel events

The National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball all canceled or postponed their seasons this week as a means to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. First-year professional football league XFL will play at least one game this weekend in an empty Seattle stadium.

College and professional basketball games were canceled across the United States this week as the COVID-19 virus hit the sports world. Most notably, the National Basketball Association called off the rest of its season after a player with the Utah Jazz was diagnosed with the virus Wednesday. On Thursday, another Jazz player was diagnosed.

The National Hockey League suspended its season Thursday. It may resume play at a later date, but no decision was made.

In college hoops, most major conferences canceled their conference tournaments after some had already started, and the NCAA on Thursday canceled its women’s and men’s basketball tournaments as well as other winter sports championships.

In the Big Ten Conference, Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg left his team’s game against Indiana Wednesday night feeling ill. He was taken to an Indianapolis hospital, and after the game, the Cornhuskers’ team was quarantined in its locker room for three hours. In the end, Hoiberg was diagnosed with Influenza Type A (not COVID-19), and the team was able to return home to Lincoln, Nebraska.

State high school basketball tournaments have been changed across the country, too. Tournaments in Nebraska, North Carolina, Colorado, New Mexico are all being played in front of immediate family members only, or with only “essential personnel” in attendance. Alaska postponed its boys’ and girls’ tournaments with no makeup date set.

17-year-old in Washington develops world’s best COVID-19 tracking site

Avi Schiffmann is a high school student in Washington state — one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 outbreak — but his work over the past few months on tracking the coronavirus has drawn praise from journalists and statisticians around globe.

Just a Thought



It may not be immediately apparent at a time when we are facing an invisible enemy like COVID-19, which has ground so much of American life to a halt this past week, but we do have the power to change our country and change our lives.

You must, when you turn 18, register to vote. And after that vote. Not just in presidential elections, but in every election.

As you move into adulthood, you will have the chance to vote on school bond issues, state referenda, county sheriffs, U.S. Representatives and Senators, and of course, the U.S. President. In Canada, the range of issues and candidates is similar. In short, you can change the way every aspect of your lives is played out, including how a government responds to a health crisis.

But the sad fact is that, despite young people’s expressed interest in politics, you don’t vote in anywhere near the same numbers as your parents and grandparents. As a result, the government may seem overly concerned with their issues — programs for the aging, Wall Street bailouts, etc. — and less with issues that young people purport to be concerned about — educational affordability, environmental concerns, LGBTQIA+ rights.

Here’s a great read that helps explain why so few of you vote. Hint — it’s not because you don’t care.