April 10, 2020

News, tips and advice from Quill and Scroll

The Lede

Photo by Ai Nhan on Unsplash

By Jeff Browne, Executive Director

Happy Founders Day!

On this date 94 years ago, George Gallup met with high school journalism advisers from St. Joseph, Michigan, to Cheyenne, Wyoming and 17 schools in between to form the Quill and Scroll Honor Society for High School Journalists “for the purpose of encouraging and rewarding individual achievements in journalism and allied fields.”

Since then, we’ve granted charters to nearly 12,000 schools in 29 countries and initiated more than 500,000 members.

We’ve conducted contests and publication critiques to reward and honor the best in high school journalism.

We’ve given out hundreds of scholarships to high school journalists who wish to pursue journalism in college, and those students have gone on to stellar careers in a host of professions.

We’ve rewarded advisers wishing to extend their knowledge of their profession and better serve their students.

We’ve funded scholarly work that better informs the world about the work done by high school journalists and teachers.

We’ve recently forged a relationship with scholastic journalists in China in hopes that the light of TRUTH that informs Quill and Scroll’s mission can help shine on that country and convince it to extend greater freedom to its journalists.

Most importantly, student members of our chapters have conducted philanthropic campaigns to further the ideals of the organization. They’ve conducted fundraisers, coat drives, public relations campaigns and food collections to remind themselves and others that journalists aren’t just disinterested observers collecting information and passing it along to the public. We are also members of our communities, our lives inextricably entwined with those of our neighbors.

That’s a deep and lasting legacy of scholastic journalism of which we are extremely proud.

So on this Founders Day we salute those visionary advisers and schools, but we also think about all our futures and how we can continue to build those relationships with our schools and the communities in which they’re situated.

Let us always be inspired by some of the opening words in our now 94-year-old induction ceremony:

Journalism is far reaching it its aims. Its followers carry obligations to society, so tonight I light the candle of TRUTH, symbolic of our aims and aspirations for the world in which we live and that finer world of tomorrow toward which we strive.

It’s An Honor

Simplified order forms and online inductions

For the most part, Quill and Scroll has moved off campus, but we go in every few days to fulfill and ship orders for induction materials and other Quill and Scroll schwag.

We published this update earlier this week. It includes a simplified order form for schools and advisers willing to pay via credit card, and an offer to host an online induction ceremony for your students.

And, as always, feel free to email [email protected] if you have any questions.

The Original 19 and 79

So what schools were among those original 19 schools that founded Quill and Scroll in 1926? And what were the other 60 that joined them in 1926? Glad you asked.

Chapter of the Year deadline is today!

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 now due April 30. 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.

Here’s 1996 winner Barbara Hollingsworth Tholen talking about the importance of her Q&S scholarship.

Student Advisory Board applications being accepted

We’re accepting applications for our Student Advisory Board for 2020-21. The SAB develops a project for the year, usually in conjunction with the Journalism Education Association for Scholastic Journalism Week, but you may also help Q&S by producing an episode of THE SOURCE podcast, a short video or a post for this blog.

We usually have an in-person (or virtual) meeting at the Fall National High School Journalism Convention, which is scheduled in mid-November in Orlando, Florida.

The deadline for application is June 1.

Just a Thought

Whom can you trust?

Former Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly this week told sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt that journalists are out to divide the country, to create and sow chaos.

“Because the media has an agenda and the agenda that they have depends on which side of the political aisle they sit, and I’m sorry that’s the way the country is now, but it’s the truth, and so they use it to divide us and embarrass the Navy,” Modly said. “They use it to embarrass you.”

President Donald Trump accepted Modly’s resignation a day after his comments, but not because he mischaracterized the work of journalists. After all, President Trump himself has a tenuous relationship with journalists, generally praising those from clearly partisan conservative news media and castigating those from more mainstream nonpartisan organizations.

Make no mistake, trust in the media is low. And some journalists have earned that distrust through sloppy reporting, conflicts of interest and general indifference.

You cannot discount, however, the coordinated campaign since the mid-1960s — specifically Roger Ailes’ life work — to sow that distrust by pushing the “media agenda” canard as hard as they possibly can.

The result is that in times like these, when hard-working journalists in every town and city  — including student journalists — are literally risking their lives to present complete and truthful stories, fully half the population won’t believe what they read or hear because faith has been eroded in nonpartisan journalism, not just by those journalists themselves, but by cynical politicians and pundits, both liberal and conservative.

Believe what you will, and by all means be skeptical about everything you read, but cynicism about our friends and colleagues— and you — is painful and damaging to our democratic republic.

So how can you help rebuild that trust in a nonpartisan press, to help the public understand that you aren’t in this to prove any point or to support liberalism, conservatism, Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Libertarians or Socialists? That you’re not out to divide people, but to unite them in a community that cares about the people in that community?

Start with a statement of purpose that clearly states your raison d’etre and then share that statement with your audiences.

Need help crafting that statement? Look no further than the eight guiding principles of Quill and Scroll for help.

  • We seek the TRUTH in what we do, and if we learn at some point that we were wrong, we’ll apologize and correct that error.
  • To that end, we are always LEARNING about the world around us. We will not be so arrogant as to think we have the answers to anything until we do the required research and investigation.
  • We embrace our LEADERSHIP role in our schools and in our communities, and we take seriously the work that we do to help people make sense of their lives and the world around them.
  • We are LOYAL, but not to a political philosophy or any individual person, but to the democratic ideal that free people use news to make informed decisions.
  • We take INITIATIVE in order to develop our stories, learning from our fellow citizens and others about the issues that trouble and delight them.
  • We practice INTEGRITY in our news gathering and presentation, leaning on tools like the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics to guide us.
  • We use our best JUDGMENT about both what to publish and what not to publish, making sure that we understand the stories that will keep our neighbors informed.
  • And we remember that FRIENDSHIP is our ultimate goal, creating a better community, one in which its members embrace each other’s humanity while rejecting prejudice and hatred.

Do that, and you’ll live up to journalism’s highest ideals and to Quill and Scroll’s founders’ vision, established 94 years ago today.