November 19, 2020

News, tips and advice from Quill and Scroll

The Lede

Second COVID-19 vaccine

Moderna Inc. reports nearly 95% effectiveness rate

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

American biotechnology company Moderna Inc. announced a 94.5% effectiveness rate of their COVID-19 vaccine using mRNA technology to protect against infection Monday. This comes a week after Pfizer and German company BioNTech released their vaccine that tested over 90% effective in their late-stage vaccine trial.

Both vaccines employ mRNA, or messenger RNA, technology in the structure of their vaccine. This means that the vaccine does not use active COVID-19 agents in the vaccine – which eliminates the risk of obtaining the virus from the vaccine.

Besides Moderna’a slightly higher effectiveness rate in their late-stage trial, there are a few key differences between the two vaccines. The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at incredibly cold temperatures (-70 degrees Celsius), compared to Moderna’s storage temperature of -20 degrees Celsius – comparable to that of a typical freezer. This makes distribution of both vaccines different: Pfizer will have to ensure the availability of extremely cold storage units for the vaccine while it is distributed. This makes the cost of distribution higher.

Both vaccines plan to apply for Emergency Use Approval through the United States’ Food and Drug Administration by early December.

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci said that it is promising that we have two vaccines that are testing effective that use similar technology in their makeup; this provides hope that other vaccines in testing that use the same technology will also prove effective.

On top of the development of the Moderna vaccine, it was revealed that country singer and song writer Dolly Parton donated $1 million to the research efforts at Moderna.

U.S. election misinformation travels

Taiwan, Italy and Spain combat election falsehoods in their own news industries

While American news sources worked diligently to check and combat information presented about the state of the general election in the U.S. — and still do as votes continue to be counted — fact checkers across the world keep an eye on the election in order to properly inform their citizens.

Summer Chen, editor-in-chief of the Taiwan FactCheck Center, cites anti-China sentiment as a potential reason for spread of election misinformation across Taiwan. Some citizens favor Trump because of his relations with China. Chen stated the fact checking center was uncharacteristically busy for reviewing information regarding an election on a completely separate continent.

Italian content director Giovanni Zagni for Facta said that half of his business the week of the election centered around American politics in a foreign country.

Because of the misinformation that is propagated and widely accepted as truths across the United States that information spreads beyond our borders to affect the beliefs of citizens of other countries. This may not seem like a big deal, but put it into perspective: if we are not able to correctly identify information in our own country, how do we expect those who are not directly involved in American workings to understand the truth?

This is yet another reminder of the importance of telling the truth, investigative journalism and trust among viewership. In order to have a lasting affect overseas, we must start here.

Biden announces top picks

Biden plans to fill his cabinet with longstanding team members

President-elect Joe Biden announced Tuesday a group of individuals that will take up positions in the White House once Biden is inaugurated in January.

Biden’s picks range from senior ranking campaign officials as well as longtime confidants will take over key positions on Biden’s team.

Biden’s former campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon will transition to Deputy Chief of Staff. O’Malley Dillon had formerly served as Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s campaign manager before receding the 2020 presidential nomination and as part of President Obama’s campaign manager for the 2012 election.

Dana Remus, former general counsel to Biden’s campaign, will serve as a counsel to President elect Biden once inaugurated. Other notable choices include Mike Donilon, Julie Chavez Rodriguez and Annie Tomasini.

It’s An Honor

‘THE SOURCE’ supplies tips

Q&S Podcast series preps students to enter WPM Contest

Retired adviser and journalist G. Fred Wickman joined host Sylvia Clubb on our podcast, THE SOURCE, to discuss how student journalists should be covering COVID-19, writing for appropriate audiences, investigative journalism and his long career writing as a journalist and advising college students.

Wickman has been the judge of the news writing category for Quill and Scroll’s Writing, Photo and Multimedia Contest since the 1980s; his experience translates to an understanding of media changes throughout the past few decades.

The WPM Contest will open its submission boxes for entries on Dec. 1. As we discussed with Wickman, we added four new categories to the mix:

  • Pandemic Coverage (Single Story)
  • Pandemic Coverage (Series of Stories)
  • Climate and Environment Writing
  • Sports Game Story

And of course, submit your work to our 30 other categories.

The final entry deadline for the WPM Contest is Feb. 10, but it’s never too early to decide which work you will submit to the contest.

If you’re looking for more advice from our panel of esteemed WPM judges, make sure you check out our podcasts with journalists Jann Nyfeller and Lyle Muller.

Quill and Scroll adopts SPJ Code of Ethics

Code of Ethics now applies to all 11,500 Q&S chapters around the world

Quill and Scroll has adopted the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics for all its chapters around the world, Executive Director Jeff Browne announced this week. The SPJ Code of Ethics has been the gold standard of journalistic codes for decades, and Quill and Scroll hopes that chapters use the document to launch discussions about how student journalists are bound by the same rules as professional journalists.

The SPJ code features four imperatives that any ethical journalist follows:

  • Seek Truth and Report It
  • Minimize Harm
  • Act Independently
  • Be Accountable and Transparent

“The SPJ’s four tenets merge seamlessly with Quill and Scroll’s eight guiding principles,” Browne said. “Many of our student journalists and their advisers already use the code in their newsrooms, but we hope that an official endorsement refocuses all of us on the importance of ethical reporting and editing, no matter the medium — yearbook, broadcast, and online and print news.”

See “Just a Thought” below to read more about the SPJ Code of Ethics and Quill and Scroll.

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.

Yearbook Excellence Contest closed for entries

Quill and Scroll’s 2020 Yearbook Excellence Contest closed for entries on Oct. 17. Our judges are currently completing their evaluations of all 18 categories.

Winners will be announced the week of December 7. Until then, keep producing great journalism!

What’s Viral?

Twitter launches ‘fleets’ worldwide

The 24-hour ephemeral posts continue to grow with additions from Twitter

Fleets” went live Tuesday across the World on Twitter, allowing users to post temporary content to their Twitter accounts that disappear after a 24-hour period. The addition to Twitter puts the application in par with Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram’s temporary “story” features that automatically delete themselves after 24-hours.

Not only do fleets delete themselves after 24-hours but they also only permit personal interactions with the material. Meaning, if someone wants to comment on your tweet, rather than liking, retweeting or replying to the tweet they are directed to personally message you regarding the fleet.

Snapchat was the first major application to launch ephemeral news tools on their platform and were followed by dupes on Instagram and Facebook. Twitter’s addition is eerily similar in format: the fleet appears at the top of your feed on top of your profile. Twitter also added a “private mode” to fleets, allowing them to be viewed only be a select group of people that the user chooses.

Twitter designers Joshua Harris and Sam Haveson cite the temporary fleets as a means of comfort for social media users that do not want their thoughts permanently aired on the internet.

First Black astronaut arrives at space station

Victor Glover lands at International Space Station, gears up for six-month term

While he may not be the first Black astronaut in orbit, Victor Glover is the first to remain at the International Space Station for more than a few weeks at a time. Glover and his crewmembers aboard SpaceX’s Crew-1 will spend over six months at the space station working as part of expedition crews.

Crew-1 landed safely at the International Space Station on Monday around 11:00 p.m. EST.

Crew-1’s takeoff and arrival marks the first time in history that NASA has used a private contractor to send astronauts into space and has successfully carried astronauts to work at the space station. Space-X is owned by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Blue Ivy Carter to narrate audiobook

Eight-year-old daughter of Beyoncé and Jay-Z booked to voice ‘Hair Love’

“Hair Love,” a short film produced by Sony Animation and written and directed by Matthew Cherry won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film in early 2020. Shortly after, the film was turned into a picture book in Spring of 2019 and HBO picked up the story to turn it into a series on their streaming platforms.

Cherry tweeted earlier this month a short video of a little girl introducing the story. The voice? None other than Blue Ivy Carter, oldest daughter of Beyoncé Knowles Carter and Jay-Z Carter.

At 8 years old, B. Carter already has singer and BET Award Winner credited to her name; now she can add Oscar-winning short film narrator to her resume.

The audiobook is available for purchase on most streaming platforms.

Just A Thought

By Jeff Browne
Q&S Executive Director

As you may have read above, Quill and Scroll has adopted the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, and will encourage all of its chapters around the world to study the code and use it — or adapt it for their own unique situations.

This development is one of a set of potential initiatives we’re working on with SPJ. The first was a Google Tools training in September that drew two dozen students and advisers to an online presentation by SPJ trainer Mike Reilley. Others will be announced as they develop, but we hope to give our members and their advisers access to other programs that professional and college journalists can already tap into.

So why the SPJ code, and not one of the other man professional codes of ethics that journalists rely on?

First, there’s the incidental fact that both the SPJ Code of Ethics and Quill and Scroll were birthed in 1926. Coincidence aside, the SPJ Code serves as a catch-all in journalistic codes of ethics. Other codes tend to be more specific to the area they cover and build on the SPJ Code.

For example, the Online News Association has a great code dealing with social newsgathering ethicsThe National Press Photographers Association builds on the basics in its code for photographers. And the RTDNA has a code specific for broadcast news producers and reporters. Heck, the ONA even has a “build-your-own code” that allows news organizations to develop a code if they have a unique set of circumstances.

But they all owe a debt to the SPJ Code, which, with its four basic tenets, sets the baseline for all journalists, student or professional. And, as we noted in the news release above, those four basic tenets align perfectly with Quill and Scroll’s eight guiding principles. SPJ’s tenets:

  • Seek Truth and Report It
  • Minimize Harm
  • Act Independently
  • Be Accountable and Transparent

Pair that set with our principles — Truth, Learning, Leadership, Loyalty, Integrity, Initiative, Judgement and Friendship — study them early and often in your newsrooms and classrooms, and prepare students to lead lives of honor no matter the professions they may end up pursuing.