January 21, 2021

News, tips and advice from Quill and Scroll

The Lede

Biden the 46th President

Wednesday’s inauguration focused on the future

In an inauguration ceremony that lasted only an hour, viewers witnessed history in nearly every moment. The inauguration of 46th President Joseph R. Biden and 49th Vice President Kamala Harris marks a new beginning in The United States of America. Here are just a few things you should note — and celebrate — about this administration’s inaugural ceremony:

  • The inauguration of the first female Vice President
  • The inauguration of the first African American Vice President
  • The inauguration of the first South Asian American Vice President
  • The inauguration of the highest ranking female in U.S. government history
  • The performance of a Latin American singer and actress that featured a line in Spanish
  • The performance of the youngest inaugural poet in history

Another important note: of the accomplishments listed above, all were completed by women.

In his inaugural address, Biden called for recognition of democracy’s purpose in our nation.

“We’ve learned again that democracy is precious and democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed,” Biden said. “This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day. A day in history and hope, of renewal and resolve.”

Predecessor Donald Trump was not mentioned in any of the inaugural celebrations. Former Vice President Mike Pence was in attendance, as well as former presidents Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, George W. Bush and  First Lady Laura Bush and Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton.

President Biden’s first official day in office included the inauguration ceremony, a visit to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, signing of Presidential Executive orders and other documents necessary to kickstart Biden’s administration as well as the “Celebrating America” inaugural program, hosted by Tom Hanks.

Reflections of truth and lies

What we’ve learned in the past four years and where we will go

No matter the news source, the most prevalent word used to describe the last four years can be summed up in a simple headline: truth versus lies. Claims became partisan, statements became inflammatory and truth became subjective. America was perpetrator and victim: at times, we failed to look across party lines at the core of an issue — but we also championed truth in our publications.

In his inaugural address, President Biden called out the media for its role in catapulting so many lies over the past four years.

CBS anchor Nora O’Donnell noted Biden’s words.

“I think particularly for all of us as journalists,” O’Donnell said, “it was resonant to hear the president say, ‘This is about defending the truth and defeating the lies.’ Reminding us about responsibility in that.”

While we enter a new presidential administration, we cannot excuse the mistakes that have been made in addressing the truth in our entire past as well as our coming future. Let it be noted we celebrate the victories produced by truth: recognition of an issue and means by which to improve it.

Our integrity defines our efforts. Our initiative reveals the truth. And our ability to learn will make for great leadership in the future. Much like our new president, we have learned from the moments that have touched our lives in the past years and we will continue to learn as we head into new challenges, new opportunities and new feats.

Journalists honored

‘Despite threats to their own lives, they continued to document history’

Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Illinois), supported by 42 House Members, headlined a resolution thanking the journalists and news media professionals who risked their safety on Jan. 6 to cover the insurrection at the Capitol and deliver timely and accurate information to the American public on Tuesday.

“It was our nation’s forefathers who first recognized that the foundation of a successful democracy must include a free press. On January 6th, journalists and members of the media faced imminent danger from rioters as our nation’s Capitol was attacked. Despite threats to their own lives, they continued to document history,” Bustos wrote. “Their work helped ensure the safety of others and continues to help federal agencies seek justice. Their actions were nothing short of heroic. As a former journalist, I want to thank them.”

The resolution marks an important moment for journalists who are often scrutinized for their unwavering commitment to covering issues and events. The resolution also points out false claims and inflammatory rhetoric used by President Donald Trump that incited the insurrection.

The resolution includes that the House of Representatives:

  1. declares its deep gratitude on behalf of the three people of the United States to the journalists and four news staff who risked threats of injury and death to five chronicle the horrendous details of the insurrection;
  2. encourages congressional support for the seven mental and physical well-being of the journalists and eight news staff affected by the insurrection;
  3. condemns the harassment and violent attacks on the media during the insurrection; and
  4. honors the Jan. 6 contributions of the 12 journalists and news staff as the newest chapter of our Nation’s ongoing struggle to protect free speech under the First Amendment.

Read the full resolution here.

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 Feb. 1, 2020 and Feb. 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!


Interviews with six Quill and Scroll judges, provide advice for entering contests

Have you been keeping up with our podcast series? This school year, we focused on providing you with the information you need to succeed in our contests as well as improve your journalistic skills. We’ve featured:

  • Lyle Muller, former editor of The Cedar Rapids Gazette and current editor for Politifact Iowa
  • Jann Nyfeller, music journalist and record shop owner
  • Fred Wickman, journalist and former college journalism advisor
  • Liz Martin, head photojournalist for The Cedar Rapids Gazette
  • Trevor Ivan, Youngstown State University journalism instructor and former contest director for the National Scholastic Press Association
  • Erica Hernandez, CNN digital producer and Quill and Scroll advisory board member

In our latest interview, host Sylvia Clubb sits down with CNN digital producer and Quill and Scroll Advisory Board member Erica Hernandez to discuss covering the COVID-19 pandemic, adapting your skills to multiple genres of journalism and setting the news agenda for your specific audience. Erica will serve as a pandemic coverage judge for our Writing, Photo and Multimedia Contest.

All interviews are focused on improving your writing and photography skills with tips and advice provided by professional and accredited journalists. We still have interviews coming – stay tuned! Until then, make sure you’ve listened to our six judges!

Quill and Scroll student board establishes 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!

Induction season is here

It’s time to honor seniors and induct members

It’s that time of the year when Quill and Scroll chapters should be nudging their advisers to think about honoring seniors and inducting new members — be they sophomores, juniors or seniors — into our international journalism honor society.

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 in late 2020. It is still valid and 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?

Gaga, JLo and Garth tear it up

Celebrities contribute to inaugural celebrations through traditional songs

Three celebrity performances were included in Wednesday’s inauguration: singer/songwriter Lady Gaga performed “The Star Spangled Banner,” actress and singer Jennifer Lopez performed “America the Beautiful” and “This Land is Your Land” and country singer Garth Brooks performed “Amazing Grace.

The performances were spread out throughout the 90-minute ceremony, placed between sermons, speeches, swear-ins and prayers.

The choice to include three incredibly different performers speaks to President Biden’s inaugural address itself: selections of a classically trained singer and pop star, a Latina pop star and Hollywood actress and a country singer work to represent the preferences and stories of millions of Americans.

Gaga previously campaigned with President Biden in November and worked with Biden during his Vice Presidency to fight sexual assault on college campuses.

Lopez’s performance included, “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” stated in Spanish. She also sang a line from her previous hit, “Let’s Get Loud.”

The announcement that Brooks would be performing at Biden’s inauguration came as a surprise to some country music fans that are known traditionally for supporting Republican candidates.

“It’s not Republican or Democrat. It’s a leader for whom I am the civilian of the greatest country on the planet.” Brooks said in a Zoom call addressing the announcement of his performance. “As long as you have people like the Bidens who are hellbent on making things good … That makes me feel good. Because I want to spend the next 10 years of my life not divided. I’m so tired of being divided.”

Brooks finished his performance by hugging the former presidents in attendance.

Trump exits to ‘YMCA’

It’s fun to stay at the… White House?

Former President Trump is no stranger to The Village People’s cult classic, “YMCA.” The song was used late in the presidential race as a rally cry for Trump supporters.

Yet, who knew that viral moment would be carried into Trump’s final day as president; Trump boarded Air Force One for the final time with “YMCA” playing in the background.

Trump stated late last week he would be holding an official departure ceremony Jan. 19 after announcing he would not be attending the inauguration of President Biden. The ceremony included a brief parting statement by Trump, where he commented on the work of his team and family members, a wish of good luck to the next cabinet and a final farewell.

“Goodbye, we love you, we will be back in some form. So, have a good life, we will see you soon,” Trump said. His impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate is still pending.

Lead singer of The Village People has asked President Trump’s administration multiple times to stop using the song.

Lil Wayne, Kodak Black pardoned

Trump pardons over 70 people, commutes over 70 sentences

As he leaves office, former President Trump had the power to to pardon or commute sentences of federal criminals. Early Wednesday morning Trump’s administration released a list of over 140 names that received a presidential pardon or commuted sentence. Of those names, many included former acquaintances of Trump as well as celebrities.

A presidential pardon can be thought of as “forgiveness” whereas a commutation can be thought of as a reduction of sentence that does not imply freedom from guilt.

Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. and Bill K. Kapri, known professionally as Lil Wayne and Kodak Black respectively, were included in that list of names. Carter received a pardon and Kapri received a commutation of his sentence.

Netflix celebrity Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic, believed he would be receiving a pardon, but he did not. The former zoo owner was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas, for his part in creating a plot to kill Carole Baskin, a wildlife conservationist, as well as for violating federal wildlife guidelines.

Maldonado-Passage’s legal team organized for a limo and hair and makeup team to meet him outside of the prison if that pardon were received.

Just A Thought

‘The Hill We Climb’

22-year-old poet captures international attention at inauguration

While the inauguration was filled with incredible moments of history and pride, none resonates more than the performance of the original poem, “The Hill We Climb” by inaugural poet Amanda Gorman. The New York Times  created a lesson plan for teachers who want to teach the poem in class.

Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in history, joining only five other poets: Richard Blanco, Elizabeth Alexander, Miller Williams, Maya Angelou and Robert Frost. Gorman was recommended as the inaugural poet by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

Gorman was born and raised in Los Angeles and, like President Biden, struggled with a speech impediment as a child. She had a passion for writing that often led her to sit down on the playground and take notes in her journal. In 2014, she was named the Youth Poet Laureate for the city of Los Angeles. She then studied sociology at Harvard College, where she was named the first Youth National Poet Laureate in 2017.

After Wednesday’s performance, it is clear Gorman will be a name we read about for years to come. “The Hill We Climb” was finished after insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Her first book, “Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem,” will be released in September 2021.

‘The Hill We Climb’ – Amanda Gorman

Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world, when day comes we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry asea we must wade. We’ve braved the belly of the beast. We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace. In the norms and notions of what just is isn’t always justice. And yet, the dawn is ours before we knew it. Somehow we do it. Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished. We, the successors of a country and a time where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one.

And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose. To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man. And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all. Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true. That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped. That even as we tired, we tried that will forever be tied together victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division. 

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid. If we’re to live up to her own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made. That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare. It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a forest that would shatter our nation rather than share it. Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. This effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us. This is the era of just redemption. We feared it at its inception. We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour, but within it, we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves so while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe? Now we assert, how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be a country that is bruised, but whole, benevolent, but bold, fierce, and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain, if we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.

So let us leave behind a country better than one we were left with. Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one. We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the West. We will rise from the wind-swept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the Lake Rim cities of the Midwestern states. We will rise from the sun-baked South. We will rebuild, reconcile and recover in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful. When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.