August 20, 2020

News, tips and advice from Quill and Scroll

The Lede

Photo by Korie Cull on Unsplash

Carpe Annum!

In this bewildering time, student journalists have a chance to ‘Seize the Year’ by joining the Q&S student board

By Jeff Browne
Quill and Scroll Executive Director

Student journalists have always had the ability to shape their worlds, telling stories and reporting news that informs and inspires their peers, their parents and their communities.

Quill and Scroll journalists have the added bonus of being part of a community that includes thousands of students at charters across the United States and around the world. However, the power of that collective has been largely untapped.

This is the year we change that, and the Quill and Scroll Student Advisory Board can be the catalyst.

Formed two years ago, the SAB has a triple purpose:

  1. To plan and execute a nation-wide pro-journalism activity every year in conjunction with the Journalism Education Association, the national journalism teachers’ organization.
  2. To provide counsel to Quill and Scroll chapters around the world about possible activities for their chapters.
  3. To provide counsel to the Quill and Scroll Executive Director and staff about the organization’s membership benefits, contests and other activities.

The activities should:

  • Promote and embody at least one of the eight lights in the Quill and Scroll induction ceremony: Truth, Leadership, Loyalty, Initiative, Integrity, Judgment, Friendship and Learning.
  • Bring together Quill and Scroll chapter members from across a school and across the world to work on a unified project.
  • Reach out to the school and/or community from which a chapter draws its students.
  • Have a broader impact in promoting the ideals of scholastic journalism, as they relate to the eight lights.

The student board members have the power to define exactly what those activities look like.

The SAB for the past two years coordinated with JEA — the organization to which your advisers and teachers belong — to promote February’s Scholastic Journalism Week.

Last year’s national high school journalist of the year, Emily Hood of Francis Howell North, served on the board both those years. And we can continue Emily’s work. But we can also provide assistance to student editors struggling to cover the pandemic, racial justice issues, local and national elections, economic crises unfolding in our communities, and the uncertainty of school itself.

Q&S student board members are not required to, but they may also contribute podcasts, columns and editorials to Quill and Scroll’s online magazine, The Digital Quill.

It’s a great way to practice leadership at an international level, and a great way to promote the principles of truth, leadership, learning, loyalty, integrity, initiative, judgment and friendship. Apply today. The application deadline is Sept. 1.

Once the board is chosen (probably by Sept. 18), we’ll meet via teleconference to begin brainstorming. Will we set up a story sharing service for Quill and Scroll schools around the world? Will we plan an activity to promote ethical journalism? Will we work with JEA, the Student Press Law Center or other organizations to ensure First Amendment freedoms for our members?

Here are some inspiring words from Q&S board member Patrick Johnson to get you started.

But’s all up to you. Carpe Annum, indeed.

It’s An Honor

Q&S Fall Deadlines

FREE Google Tools training from SPJ and Quill and Scroll

Sign up today to take part in a training provided free by Quill and Scroll in partnership with the Society of Professional Journalists. The training is set for 2 to 4 p.m. CT, Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Learn about all of the free Google tools that can help your newsroom build interactive charts, maps, visualizations and more. This is a hands-on workshop, so be sure to bring your laptop and smartphone.

Tools we’ll cover: Google Flourish, Google Dataset Search, Google Fact Check Explorer, Google Earth,, Google Trends, MyMaps, Earth Engine Timelapse, data scraping with Google Sheets and more.

More information on SPJ Trainer Mike Reilley and the registration form is on this page.

It’s never too late to honor seniors and induct members

If you put off your spring celebrations, you can still induct new Quill and Scroll members and honor seniors this fall. We’re able to take and fulfill orders, even as Quill and Scroll staff work from both our home offices and our offices at the Adler Journalism Building on the University of Iowa campus.

We published this update earlier in August. 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. The sooner you induct new members, the sooner they’ll be able start planning chapter activities in the spirit of Quill and Scroll. Here’s a link to a PDF file of the Q&S Chapter Handbook if you don’t already have it.

A reminder about cords:

Students MUST HAVE BEEN OR WILL BE INDUCTED into the Society to earn the honor to wear an Honor Cord (GHC) or Honor Cord with Insignia (GCI). If you order cords for non-members, please choose the Non-Member Cord Option (NCD). Quill and Scroll exists because of the special unifying bond brought about by membership and the lasting legacy of the induction ceremony.

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

Yearbook Contest

The Yearbook Excellence Contest deadline is Oct. 10 for all 2020 books. Students may enter their work in 18 categories, and all individual entries are $5. Theme Development entries are $10. There’s no limit on the number of individual entries a school may complete. Each school is limited to one Theme Development entry.

Competition is divided by school size, with Class A consisting of schools with 750 students or more, and Class B consisting of schools with 749 students or fewer. Begin your entry process here.

News Media Evaluation

News Media Evaluation judges are wrapping up their work this month, and we should be able to announce our Gallup Award winners by mid-September at the latest. Stay tuned to The Weekly Scroll by subscribing here. 

What’s Hot?

Reporting resources galore

Former NSPA director gathers story ideas for student journalists

Logan Aimone is the adviser at the University of Chicago Laboratory High School, and he is also the former executive director of the National Scholastic Press Association. He has put together a stellar list of story ideas for student journalists to begin the year. Beware, it’s 10 pages, but it’s awesome!

Deaths of people in police custody

Mr. Aimone’s story ideas have several ties to the Black Lives Matter movement, social justice and racial inequality in North America, particularly in the U.S. And no matter how you report those stories, what angles you choose and which anecdotes you may tell, you’re going to need solid background to bring substance to your work.

This is a great collection of reporting resources about deaths in police custody, all curated by Journalists Resource.

PBS NewsHour

The “PBS NewsHour” has put together some great resources for students journalists and their teachers. Trying to figure out exactly what Republicans and Democrats stand for while they put on their propaganda shows this week and next? “NewsHour” has some answers for you. There are even lesson plans in there for your teachers.

Sports story ideas

So I did this for MediaNow this summer. It’s about being a sports reporter even if there aren’t any games being played, or if you just want to produce great sports stories.

Just a Thought

The Ultimate Navigation Tool

The Q&S induction ceremony offers the perfect roadmap for good journalism

If you’ve been inducted into Quill and Scroll, you’ve probably heard these words or words similar to them. If you haven’t been inducted, we hope it’s just a matter of time until you are. And if you’re a regular Weekly Scroll readers (there are a couple hundred of those), you’ve probably seen this printed here the past two years.

These are the eight principles upon which Quill and Scroll was founded 94 years ago, represented by candles in the induction ceremony. As you enter another year of practicing important journalism in your yearbooks, news magazines, newspapers, video programs and websites, we hope you take these to heart and keep them in mind.

From the light of Truth, Quill and Scroll first took its ideals in 1926 when it was organized by a group of high school advisers. This light has spread to more than 11,500 chapters located in every state and in 29 countries around the world.

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 have LOYALTY, 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 established professional codes of ethics and staff policies 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.