December 10, 2020

News, tips and advice from Quill and Scroll

The Lede

COVID Vaccines are coming

First doses administered in UK — U.S. still waiting

Seventy-five years ago, at the end of World War II, the free world celebrated two victories VE Day and VJ Day — Victory in Europe and Victory in Japan, both in 1945. Tuesday marked simply “V Day” in the United Kingdom as that country’s National Health Service began delivering a coronavirus vaccine to its elderly and critical health care workers.

Other countries, including China and Russia, have also started vaccinating their populations.

The U.S., which saw its 15th million case this week and speeds close to 300,000 deaths to COVID, will likely begin vaccinating its highest risk populations within days. President-elect Joe Biden promised that his administration will deliver 100 million vaccines in his first 100 days in office. His inauguration is scheduled for Jan. 20, 2021.

Biden’s promise comes in light of the news that the Trump administration passed on multiple offers by vaccine developer Pfizer to purchase millions of vaccine doses.

So when will high school students and their teachers and parents get the vaccine? One researcher says it may be late summer before children receive it. As for everybody else, the New York Times developed an interactive graphic that answers that question for you, based on your age, your profession, your location and your general health.

Schools still trying to figure out how to deal with the rest of the year

Because full vaccination is unlikely to happen in the U.S. until at least a few months into the next calendar year, school districts are still figuring out what’s best for their students, staff, faculty, parents and communities. And the answers are as varied as the number of schools in the country.

But it’s not just classes that are taking on a different feel for students. After-school activities also have to adjust to life in a pandemic. Here’s one account of how that’s working for an after-school educator in Denver.

It’s An Honor

2020 Yearbook Contest Results

McKinney, Christ Presbyterian win top Blue and Gold Awards

McKinney High School (Texas) and Christ Presbyterian Academy (Tennessee) have earned Staff Excellence Blue and Gold Awards for their overall performance in the 2020 Quill and Scroll Yearbook Excellence Contest.

The Blue and Gold Awards note the best high school journalism offers. Winners of this prestigious award have distinguished themselves in visuals and/or writing categories in each year’s Yearbook Excellence Contest. Several schools earned 2020 Blue and Gold Awards based on their staffs’ overall performance in the Yearbook Excellence Contest. The Staff Excellence Blue and Gold Award represents the best overall.

Here’s where you can find out all the winners, both schools and individuals.

WPM Contest is open

Submit entries in 34 categories for the 2021 Writing, Photo and Multimedia Contest

The 2021 Writing, Photo and Multimedia Contest is now open for entries! This year we are offering 34 category contests, including four new categories:

  1. Climate and Environment Story
  2. Pandemic Coverage, Single Story
  3. Pandemic Coverage, Package or Series of Stories
  4. Sports Event Story

You can view a description of all 34 categories here.

In order to be eligible to submit your work, you must be a high school student and the piece must have been published, broadcast or run by a student media entity or professional news publication between February 1, 2020 and February 1, 2021. Yearbook spreads may be submitted if they fall within those parameters.

For the fourth consecutive year, WPM is completely digital – this means all entries must be accompanied by a link to the entry material that is shareable and viewable for our judges.

To enter, first click on this link to visit the School Entry Form. That form is filled out by someone representing the school or professional organization and can account for payment for entries. Once finished, press “Submit.” The form will automatically redirect you to the Student Entry Form where you will be able to submit entries.

Payment may be made by credit card, check or purchase order. Visit our website to learn more about completing each option.

The final entry deadline is February 5, but it is never too early to send in your entries!

‘THE SOURCE’ unveils new podcast

Interview with Trevor Ivan, Youngstown State University journalism instructor and Quill and Scroll judge

In this episode of “THE SOURCE,” host Sylvia Clubb talks with Youngstown State University journalism instructor and past Quill and Scroll judge regarding journalism tactics and basics when approaching print and digital journalism.

Along with Ivan’s interview, “THE SOURCE” has talked with multiple WPM and YEC judges about tips and tricks that make student work stand out in Quill and Scroll contests. As you prepare to submit your WPM entries, take a listen to our past four episodes: you may just learn something that will make your work stand out.

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?

Covering vaccines

Poynter Institute provides free COVID-19 webinar for journalists

As the world prepares for the dispersal of multiple COVID-19 vaccines, journalists are required to address any and all questions their readers may have. However, we’re not scientists! Preparing to write about the science behind vaccines as well as the dispersal process and potential effects of various vaccines may seem like a challenging task: the Poynter Institute wants to make that easier.

Poynter is hosting a free webinar for journalists discussing COVID-19 vaccines and common questions that need addressed when covering the vaccines in media at 2 p.m. EST on December 14. Some topics that the webinar will address include:

  • Understanding mRNA vaccines (how they work and how they are different from other vaccines)
  • Potential reactions to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines
  • Why racial and ethnic minorities are hit harder by the effects of COVID-19
  • Ethical issues around labeling some “essential” workers
  • Dispelling rumors and misinformation regarding COVID-19 and its vaccines

The webinar will feature the president of the American Medical Association. Dr. Susan Bailey, and Poynter senior faculty Al Tompkins.

While the webinar is free, Poynter asks that those who are able provide a good will donation. Reserve your spot today!

Olivia Jade speaks out

Twenty-one year old daughter of Lori Laughlin addresses USC admission, parents’ jail time

In March 2019, America’s “Aunt Becky” Lori Loughlin of “Full House” fame and her fashion designer husband Mossimo Gianulli were found to have paid over $500,000 to fraudulently paint their two daughters as recruits of the University of Southern California’s crew team. While not the only parents involved in the large college admissions scandal, both Loughlin and Gianulli were sentenced to prison time and required to pay a fine for their actions.

What has been wholly overlooked in the whole matter was the status of their two daughters, Olivia Jade and Bella Rose, who directly benefited from the scandal by gaining admission to USC. Prior to the scandal, Olivia was a successful YouTube beauty vlogger and had endorsement deals with Sephora, Lulus, Amazon, Dolce & Gabanna, Marc Jacobs Beauty and Estée Lauder companies Smashbox and Too Faced. After the scandal broke, her endorsement deals were ended, she took a hiatus from social media and dropped out of USC.

Because the court case was ongoing until late August 2020, Olivia was not able to publicly speak about the matter. She broke her silence Tuesday when she joined Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith and Adrienne Banfield-Norris on the Facebook Watch program “Red Table Talk.” This was Olivia’s first interview since the scandal broke.

The interview has been met with both criticism and support on all sides of the matter: criticism and support of Olivia Jade for speaking out about her privilege and criticism and support of Pinkett-Smith for allowing Olivia air-time on the show. The interview has been highly debated for comments made by everyone at the table.

In a year filled with important events surrounding race and privilege – specifically white privilege – the interview raises questions about redemption, understanding and maturity.

New Olympic events

Breakdancing, skate boarding, sport climbing and surfing added to the 2024 lineup

Photo by Michael Afonso on Unsplash

The Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee approved the athlete quotas and event program for the 2024 Olympics, to be held in Paris, Wednesday.

The committee announced that breakdancing, or breaking, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing will all be included in the 2024 event program. The sports are geared toward younger athletes; the inclusion of the events was in hopes to increase the participation of younger athletes in the games. The sports were previously included at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018.

While four events have been added to the games, the IOC decreased the total number of events from 339 to 329 from the planned Tokyo 2020 games. Cuts included four weightlifting events and boxing events. Overall, athlete total has been limited in 28 sports, dropping from 11,000 to 10,500.

On top of the changes made to the sports included in the games, the IOC prioritized gender equality in creating the event lineup. Compared to past games, Paris 2024 will include 50% female participation and 22 mixed gender events. Twenty-eight of the total 32 sports will be completely gender equal.

Just A Thought

Unreliable sources

Millions are turning to dodgy ‘news’ channels to confirm their biases

By Jeff Browne
Executive Director

Fox News has always been a whipping boy of the liberal media ecosystem because of its generally blatant partisanship during prime time and because of studies that show its viewers often aren’t as informed on current events as are viewers, readers and listeners of other “mainstream media.”

But when reporters on the news side of Fox News began acknowledging President Trump’s loss in the Nov. 3 election, the president started steering viewers to other conservative networks — specifically NewsMax and One America News — that have parroted the president’s baseless claims of election interference, claims that have been thrown out of every court in which they’ve been introduced, including this week in the U.S. Supreme Court.

As we have stated many times in this space over the past four years, Quill and Scroll’s founding principle, “truth,” dictates that we urge scholastic media to cover news with an unwavering commitment to that principle, and not to any particular political philosophy. To that end, we are nonpartisan.

But that doesn’t mean that journalistic output is binary, that one news outlet is just a different side of the same coin as another outlet, and that the only difference is the “slant” they put on the news.

That’s why we urge students and their advisers to look at resources such as Media Bias Fact Check. There you can check out what kind of bias a news outlet might have, but also whether that outlet is reliable in the news that it presents. It also provides information about the news outlet’s ownership, and if that may influence its coverage. It also includes categories for conspiracy sites, pseudo-science and satire.

For example, if you go to Media Bias Fact Check, you can easily search for One America News and NewsMax. On the other end of the spectrum, you can also find entries for CNN, MSNBC and hundreds of print publications. Researchers at MBFC analyze the choice of stories, words and other factors to determine if an outlet is biased, and then they research to see if that outlet has passed fact checks of its work.

This is what their entry for NewsMax looks like:

The arrow indicates bias, while the chart below it indicates reliability and credibility. NewsMax’s entry then provides a detailed explanation for their rating, including links out to fact checks on their reporting. As you can see, NewsMax has a solid conservative bias, and if you read more, you’ll find that they have some credibility, but they’ve also failed a few key fact checks, including lies about the recent election and Trump’s claims of fraud.

MBFC gives Fox News a similar rating as NewsMax, but the areas of disinformation differ. For Trump’s new favorite network, MBFC moves that yellow dot to the “Extreme” right, and drops the credibility rating to “LOW.”

OK, but what about those notoriously liberal networks, CNN and MSNBC?

It turns out CNN is almost as far to the left as NewsMax and Fox are to the right, and that MSNBC is about the same as CNN, though in both cases, the “MIXED” rating on reliability comes from the networks’ opinion shows skewing the overall rating.

So where can student journalists go to find reliable material for their own reporting? On MBFC, simply click on the navigation button “Least Biased” and you’ll see a list of more than 100 news organizations led by the Associated Press and the News Literacy Project.

The most remarkable thing about the “Least Biased” list is the number of local newspapers, news sites and news channels. And yet those are the news outlets that we tend to read the least in these hyper-partisan times. And the Los Angeles Times recently argued that the “death” of local news has exacerbated our polarized political climate.

In the end, student journalists should be covering their schools, their peers and their communities, so there shouldn’t be a great reliance on national outlets to help you with your research. Besides, so many of those organizations are biased, even if just slightly. Rely on proven reliable local journalism. In a democratic republic that requires an informed citizenry, you and your local reporters may be the last line of defense against propaganda and disinformation.