January 7, 2021

News, tips and advice from Quill and Scroll

The Lede

Insurrection shocks U.S.

Until Americans value truth, we live in a broken country

What you saw yesterday — U.S. citizens committing insurrection and disrupting the lawful government of the United States of America doing its Constitutional duty — was the result of lies.

Americans whipped up by a dishonest president and dishonest media stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., to try and stop the pro forma act of the U.S. Senate confirming what we all knew as early as Nov. 7, that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be the next president and vice president of the U.S., and that they won the election in the most secure election in U.S. history, according to U.S. intelligence services.

To not believe that is to have zero faith in the institutions of our government, the good Americans who staff it, the experts who study these things, and each other. Down that road lies ruin.

You’ve probably read the warnings for weeks, months, even years — we can’t continue to have a functioning democratic republic if we don’t value truth, if we don’t work from a common set of facts to continue this experiment in self-government. While that may have seemed like rhetoric at the time, it became very real around 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.

In the end, the president finally promised an orderly transition of power, despite his calls early Wednesday that rallied his supporters — the insurrectionists — to storm the capital and after years of lying to the American people about … well, just about everything.

In the end, conservative media outlet Fox News and many of its pundits finally admitted the lunacy of the attempted coup, even if far-right media continue to refer to the insurrectionists as “patriots.”

In the end, Congress finally finished their duty of confirming the Electoral College votes and naming Joe Biden as the next president of the United States.

But the damage has been done, not just in yesterday’s tragedy that left four people dead and the rest of us psychologically scarred, but in our distrust of each other.

And we were shocked again how differently we view the world based on the media, whether produced by journalists or entertainers or algorithms, we consume.

Former President George W. Bush said he and former first lady Laura Bush were “sickened” by the raid on the capitol.

World leaders called it “disgraceful” and “distressing.”

This tweet from Jason Kline, the principal at Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, helped put the stunning news into perspective.

We’re all sorry. Whether in our 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s or older, we all have to apologize for not doing what was needed to make sure our people were safe, educated and free to pursue their dreams. We leave to you a broken country. We’re sorry.

Now we can all work together to enshrine “Truth,” Quill and Scroll’s cornerstone value, as the light that guides everyone, in every endeavor.

Clearinghouse for stories about the coup attempt

Quill and Scroll would love to hear from you and feature your news stories, photos, opinions, personal memoirs and local-angle pieces about the Jan. 6 failed coup attempt on our democratic republic.

If you publish something that you’re proud of — whether it speaks for you alone or for millions like you, or whether it’s for a yearbook or a news publication in print or online — we’d love to put it on our website and in this blog so that it can be shared with a larger audience.

Just complete this short form, which requires that you provide a link to your original story or to a folder that contains your published work. We’ll review it and place the best in this blog for the next several weeks.

A message for the team

Quill and Scroll members and prospective members, this is your 9/11.

For your parents and those of us in newsrooms or classrooms on Sept. 11, 2001, we knew that day ushered in a new world for all of us, one that would require greater understanding of the world around us and even some personal sacrifice in order to do that effectively and with empathy.

The same can be said of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 for your great-grandparents’ generation. Or the entire Vietnam era and Watergate for your grandparents. Those events should have changed us for the better. We should have come out of those better as people and as a nation.

You will refer back to Jan. 6, 2021 as a watershed moment in your lives, in the lives of all U.S. residents and citizens, even citizens of the world, as the day our democracy teetered on the brink.

Q&S member Chris Andino (Iowa City HS, 1998) works as a foreign service officer for the U.S. State Department. Chris wrote these words on Facebook to his team in the State Department as a means of expressing just how important we are to each other and to our country, wherever we may live:

We are all in the same boat, watching this on the news. If you need someone to talk to about this, I’m here. If you’re concerned about what we do next, I’m here and we’ll talk about it. 

My father came to the United States because the opportunities she afforded, opportunities based on our political system and on the rule of law. I chose to serve the United States because I believe in the urgency of that promise. Today is a hard day, a critical day. But we who work for the United States must take comfort in knowing that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth. 

As we’ve done for the past year, we’ll rely on each other to get through the unknown together and protect the bilateral relationship that we’ve worked so hard to advance.

The oath that we’ve taken is to support and defend the constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Rarely has that been more urgent than this moment. It’s a noble calling, and one that is hard, one that will require personal hardship and sacrifice, but one that will put you on the right side of history and honor if you stick with it right.

It’s An Honor

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!

Support for Editors

Quill and Scroll student board will establish online discussion board for student editors

The Quill and Scroll Student Advisory Board is working on a project that will produce a monthly newsletter and a discord chat for editors to use, so they can give and receive help, tips and ideas from other editors.

If you are an editor at a yearbook or news publication or broadcast news entity, sign up on this Google Form to be a part of the discussion. If you’re an adviser, forward it to your editors, be they editors-in-chief, section editors, photo editors or any leader on your staff.

We would like our network to really encompass and connect as many editors as we can. Thank you so much for your time!

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.

Winners’ certificates and plaques are being mailed early next week.


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?

Journalist’s Resource lists their 10 most popular posts of 2020

Want to take a look back at the biggest news stories of 2020 from a journalist’s perspective? Look no further! “Journalist’s Resource” compiled a list of their top 10 most viewed stories of 2020. While not inherently related to pop culture, reflecting on journalistic coverage in an unprecedented year can inform our strategies as we head into a new year’s news cycle.

Here are just a few of their top 10 items: 

  • Deaths in police custody in the United States: Research review The article breaks down typical tropes of police related violence as well as the history of racial inequity within the American justice system and how that effects law enforcement related injuries and deaths. 
  • ‘Study: Trump’s support of the police served as ‘dog whistle’ to voters with racial resentment’ The article 

Netflix’s ‘Bridgerton’ has fans swooning over period pieces yet again

‘Shondaland’ makes another hit

If you haven’t heard, Netflix debuted their new original series “Bridgerton” on December 25; since the show premiered, fans can think of nothing else. 

The show centers on early 19th century England, debutantes, romance, bloodlust, and a “Gossip Girl” – esque mystery society journalist. Only eight episodes in total, the show is the first of Shonda Rhimes’ (of Grey’s Anatomy, HTGAWM, and Private Practice fame) $100 million Netflix deal. 

Netflix estimates that nearly 63 million households have streamed the series in its first two weeks of debut. Yet, it’s not your typical period piece: let’s dive into some of the reasons Bridgerton is so binge-worthy. 

While the show does take place in early 19th century England, the storyline is incredibly familiar. Introduced by a seemingly “know-it-all” narrator, the show follows potential relationships of eligible – and at times, undesirable – teenagers as they make their debut into society. Viewers encounter catty friendships, “pick me” drama and unrequited love. 

Period pieces aren’t for everyone. Yet, Bridgerton is able to capture so much attention because of its modernistic approach to history. While most period pieces reflect history as it was, Bridgerton imagines history as it could have been had society taken strides relating to race. 

The male lead, The Duke of Hastings (played by Regé-Jean Page), was thrust into his Duke-ship by his cruel father that feared nothing more than his title being passed to the white men who came before him. While race may not seem like a main focus in this show, it plays a central role in explaining the balance created in this imagined society. 

One of the show’s supporting characters, Eloise Bridgerton, may be reminiscent of Jo March from Little Women. She brings much needed light to the inequities in society between men and women. 

Does that soundtrack sound familiar? How about the voice of Lady Whistledown, this generation’s Gossip Girl? The entire soundtrack of Bridgerton is instrumental versions of popular songs (Bad Guy, Thank U, Next, etc). And Lady Whistledown? After watching the show myself, I was struck by how much she sounded like the Queen of Genovia – it could be played by no other than Julie Andrews. 

The show has not yet been signed for a second season.

NBA pushes for mental health reform

League works to prioritize mental and physical health of players

The National Basketball League (NBA) announced Wednesday they are issuing mandates to all teams to provide mental health resources to players, coaches and families amid growing pandemic concerns. 

The league told teams they should focus on providing educational and awareness materials relating to mental health because of concerns that have risen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. 

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

The NBA implemented “Mind Health” in recent seasons – a mandate that required mental health professionals be made available to team members – and seeks to continue with that movement as they focus more specifically on mental health care. 

The move, among other COVID-19 related mandates, pushes the NBA into the spotlight compared to other national sports organizations.

Just A Thought

By Jeff Browne
Executive Director

On Dec. 17, I had the honor of inducting 16-year-old Nawal Haider Butt of Lahore, Pakistan into our society. She is the first South Asian student to be inducted into Quill and Scroll.

Nawal has been published in at least two Pakistani professional publications, and as you’ll see in the video below, has been challenged by her school principal to start a journalism club at her school. She is also a scholar, making her a marvelous addition to our family.

There are several notable things about the induction:

  • First, you’ll note that the chapter mentioned is “Eye on Ivy,” which is a Pakistani organization dedicated to helping young Pakistanis, and especially young women, pursue higher education. Eye on Ivy became the first non-school entity to be granted a charter and start a chapter. We hope that others — from professional publications to international journalism organizations that publish student work — will follow suit.
  • You’ll also note that the person reciting the oath is famous Pakistani journalist Ejaz Haider, and he also delivers a short address about the importance of truth and the difficulty sometimes in delivering it.
  • You’ll hear the full induction script, which is the one Nawal and Eye on Ivy wanted. The script is an eloquent reminder of our timeless mission: telling the truth in a world that doesn’t always want to hear it.
  • Finally, if you’d like to do a virtual induction this spring, please let me know. I’d love to help. Email: [email protected]