October 23, 2020

News, tips and advice from Quill and Scroll

The Lede

The verdict?

A stream of lies, most from one side

Last night’s presidential debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was the last of the campaign season as the candidates — and hundreds of other candidates in your towns, counties and states — gear up for the Nov. 3 general election.

Because “Truth” is our most important founding principle, Quill and Scroll has made it a mission this year and last to encourage our chapters to do some fact-checking of statements made in their schools, popular culture, social media and their communities. This New York Times fact-check from last night not only underscores how many lies the candidates told last night — spoiler alert: President Trump told the most — but it also shows how fact-checks are best done. They focus on a single statement and dig deep into that one fact in the statement.

Here’s a single example, with a link out to the full explanation:

“I prepaid millions and millions of dollars in taxes.”

— Mr. Trump

Mr. Trump said he “prepaid” federal income taxes. In 2016 and 2017, Mr. Trump requested an extension to file his 1040, and each time, he made the required payment to the I.R.S. for income taxes he might owe — $1 million for 2016 and $4.2 million for 2017.

One million cases

Spain is the first European country to reach the number

Photo by Daniel Prado on Unsplash

Spain announced Wednesday morning that they have surpassed 1 million COVID-19 cases after nearly 17,000 additional cases in the previous 24 hours. The country has registered 34,366 confirmed COVID-19 related deaths since the onset of the virus.

As numbers increase in Spain, they plan to tighten restrictions in hopes of lowering the spread of the outbreak.

To compare, the U.S. has seen more than 8 million cases, which is slightly more cases per capita than Spain. The U.S. death toll has climbed to more than 225,000, which is slightly fewer than Spain. Canada has had just more than 200,000 cases and 9,800 deaths, a per capita rate about 38 percent of that seen in the U.S.

Pope endorses same-sex unions

Pope Francis releases a statement that shows support for LGBTQ+ community

Photo by Ashwin Vaswani on Unsplash

In the new documentary, “Francesco,” released Wednesday in Rome, head of the Roman Catholic church Pope Francis stated a civil union law needs to be put in place to protect the rights of same-sex couples.

This statement is the most progressive statement regarding same-sex relationships that has been made by a leader of the Catholic church. Pope Francis has before made statements showing his support for same-sex couples, including endorsing civil unions previously while serving as the archbishop of Buenos Aires.

Francesco” is a new documentary on the life and teachings of Pope Francis, who has served as Pope since 2013. The documentary is directed by Evgeny Afineevsky and is set to premiere in the United States October 26.

Purdue will pay $8.3 billion

Oxycontin maker settles with U.S. Justice Department

It’s An Honor

Yearbook Excellence Contest closed for entries

Quill and Scroll’s 2020 Yearbook Excellence Contest closed for entries on October 17. We are in the process of distributing over 1,000 entries to our judges.

Winners will be announced in early December. Until then, keep writing!

Writing, Photo and Multimedia Contest is next!

Get ready to start submitting entries for the Writing, Photo and Multimedia Contest starting in December. The final entry deadline will be Feb. 10, but it’s never too early to start looking at your best work and deciding which and how many to enter.

For the first time, the WPM Contest will be split into Class A (large schools) and Class B (not-as-large schools) based on enrollment. That means more chances to earn a first, second or third place. As always, at least 10 percent of all entries will be recognized as winners.

We’ve added three new categories:

  1. Sports Game Coverage
  2. Pandemic Coverage (Single Story)
  3. Pandemic Coverage (Series of Stories)

Here’s where you can find all the categories, as well as last year’s winners.

Eleven schools named George H. Gallup Award winners

Named for the founder of Quill and Scroll and the Gallup Poll, the award is given only to those publications that achieved and sustained excellence during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Gallup Award recognition is based on extraordinary improvement, exceptional service to the school and community, editorial campaigns, and in-depth reporting on special issues.

International First Place Award recognition went to 18 schools. The International Second Place Award was awarded to nine schools. Click here for a full list of winners. 

The Gallup Award winners include:

  • Felix Varela Senior High School, “The Viper Vibe”
  • Clarke Central high School, “Odyssey News Magazine”
  • Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, “The NW Passage”
  • Francis Howell North High School, “North Star”
  • Nixa High School, “Wingspan”
  • Green Valley High School, “The InvestiGator”
  • Southwest CTA, “Southwest Shadow”
  • Lakota East High School, “Spark”
  • Harrisonburg High School, “Newstreak”
  • McLean High School, “The Highlander News”
  • Shalhevet High School, “The Boiling Point”

It’s never too late (or early!) 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.

What’s Viral?

Fourteen-year-old discovers molecule that could be the key to creating a COVID-19 vaccine

A discovery submitted for 3M’s ‘Young Scientist Challenge’ shows potential in fighting the coronavirus

Anika Chebrolu, an Indian-American student from Frisco, Texas, was only an eighth grader when she entered 3M’s “Young Scientist Challenge” and discovered a molecule that may help scientists create a vaccine for COVID-19.

Chebrolu entered the challenge in hopes of winning the $25,000 prize for contributing a solution to an every day problem. She said she became interested in learning more about effective cures for Influenza after fighting a severe infection in 2019.

Chebrolu’s project used in-silico methodology to discover a molecule that binds to infectious proteins to eliminate a virus. She now is working with scientists to work on fighting the morbidity rate and severity of symptoms in COVID-19 infected patients. When asked for a quote regarding her win, Chebrolu stated, “Never stop asking questions.”

Father/daughter podcast proves you’re never too young to get into journalism

‘You Must Know Everything’ podcast covers what you didn’t learn in school in a welcoming parent-to-child dynamic

Journalist Jeremy Smith, who has worked for “The Atlantic,” “Discover,” “The Slate” and “The New York Times” teamed up with his nine-year-old daughter Rasa this summer to collaborate on a podcast after their annual father/daughter sleepaway trip was cancelled due to COVID-19.

The podcast was a chance to connect with each other but has grown to be a nationally recognized feel good podcast that covers life lessons that they don’t teach in school. Each episode focuses on a specific lesson that J. Smith or R. Smith teaches to the other. Each episode is only 10 minutes long and perfect to add to your morning routine.

You Must Know Everything” follows the same structure for each episode, starting off with a personal theory or lesson, discussion of a short poem and ending with research on a specific question. Host duties trade off every episode, giving both parties the ability to talk about what is important to them at the moment. The podcast is unscripted and real, giving you an authentic look at a real-life father/daughter relationship.

Interested in the podcast? Here’s one of my favorite episodes. “You Must Know Everything” is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify Podcasts. You can subscribe on RSS Feed.

President Trump busts a move

‘YMCA’ dance at rallies goes viral as election season is in full swing

President Trump started a new trend to close his presidential campaign rallies as we draw closer to the 2020 presidential election: dancing to The Village People’s, “YMCA.”

Trump has been closing his rallies with the dance for over a week now, and the dance seems to be spreading. His campaign aids and staff can be seen dancing backstage and walking along with the president. Besides being highly entertaining for his campaign audiences and the viral videos that have produced from the dance, Trump’s dance gives his rallies a lighthearted feel to the ending – even amid a highly publicized campaign.

Just A Thought

Everybody loves a story, but we often settle for reports

By Jack Kennedy, Quill and Scroll board member

Jack Kennedy

One area that lags in yearbook journalism is what we used to call copy, or the lead story on a spread. Some staffs have thrown up their hands and given up even trying to include traditional prose in the book, favoring instead extended captions and alternatives to text. If you have been ripped in critiques long enough about the mediocre copy in past books, this is a smart option.

But many staffs are still interested in including prose to examine what students were thinking or simply to supply context for a sport or club or class. Good for them.

Our default strategy for those copy blocks tends to be to write a report. The reporter strings some isolated quotes together (be sure to get something from three students), tosses in some summary comments about an activity that spanned months, and then bookends those with a vague lead and conclusion.

My theory is that we think of that default copy block as the space that balances all those fractions of a second that are the photos on a spread. We often try to jam an entire season or a year of classes or a months-long production into ten grafs. But such an attempt is doomed from the very start, so let’s not keep running into that same wall.

Consider a yearbook spread in a slightly different way. We don’t think twice about devoting a quarter or more of a spread to ONE photo that captures one moment. It’s good for design and a great way to showcase a great image.

What if we thought of a copy block as something similar? What if we thought of a space that might support 300 words or so as somewhat like our giant lead photo? What if we pushed back that “write a summary” impulse and instead focused tightly on ONE magic moment, one key play, one backstage incident, one “here’s what happened behind the scenes that you can’t see but that will help you understand”?

No more random quotes from coaches about the kids giving 110 percent or comments like “we learned to come together as brothers/sisters.”

How about lots MORE short narratives that SHOW kids giving their all and that take readers to scenes that SHOW a team or club bonding?

And what if we found readers lingering over a spread, fascinated to be able to get inside someone’s head or have an intriguing scene recreated for them?