February 11, 2021

News, tips and advice from Quill and Scroll

The Lede

Impeachment II

First two days of Trump trial underscore the value of images

U.S. House of Representatives impeachment managers on Tuesday finished their first full day of presenting the case against former President Donald Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

On Monday, both the House managers and Trump’s legal team presented arguments about the constitutionality of trying a former president for crimes committed during the president’s term. The Senate — which serves as the juror in impeachment trials — voted 54-46 to hear the rest of the trial and to try Trump.

Here’s a great digest of stories from the Associated Press about the trial, the Jan. 6 siege and the arrests of conspirators for their part in the insurrection.

Quill and Scroll would like to underscore the importance of visuals from Jan. 6 in putting together the evidence for the case against the twice-impeached president. Much of it was provided by participants and by security cameras, but a large portion of it was taken by photojournalists, both still and visual, who were either just outside the capitol building or who followed the insurrectionists into the building, putting their own lives at risk.

House managers will likely finish presenting their case against the president this week, and then it will be the former president’s attorneys’ chance to present their case that the president isn’t responsible for the violent, deadly attack against our seat of government and the people who defend it.

Legislative update

Arkansas kills, Iowa advances bill to ban ‘1619 Project’ in schools

Last week, we wrote about the 1619 Project and legislation that may prohibit Iowa teachers from using materials from the project in classroom lessons. The bill won subcommittee approval Tuesday and is now eligible for consideration by the state’s House Education Committee.

The bill would ban schools, colleges and regents from using any information from the 1619 Project in classroom and would take away state funding from schools or programs that are found to have used the materials in U.S. History lessons.

Arkansas killed a similar bill this week.

SPJ calls for sessions

National Convention in September looking for presenters, panels and discussion topics

The Society of Professional Journalists is asking for suggestions of programs, panels, discussion topics, workshops and sessions to include at their national convention from September 2-5, 2021 in New Orleans.

The national convention is aimed toward collegiate and professional journalists, who are a great audience to pitch to with ideas about cooperating with your school program. When thinking about proposing a topic, keep in mind SPJ:

  • Are Champions for Journalists
  • Are Fighters for the First Amendment
  • Are Stewards for Ethical Journalism
  • Are Producer’s of Journalism’s Future, including new and diverse voices

The proposal deadline is Feb. 12. Click here for more information.

Enter SPJ’s high school essay contest!

“Why must journalists strive to improve diversity and representation in both their coverage and in their newsrooms, and how might this happen?”

This is the prompt posed by SPJ’s 2021 high school essay contest. Essay’s must be between 300-500 words written by students in grades 9-12 in U.S. public, private and home schools. The deadline is February 19, 2021. For more contest information, click here. 

It’s An Honor


Apply now for Quill and Scroll scholarships before applications close

The Quill and Scroll scholarship applications for both students and advisers are open now on our website! Interested in applying? Read below for information on both student and adviser scholarships.

Each year we award a number of scholarships to students and advisers focused on continuing their education or career in journalism. Scholarships are funded by our Quill and Scroll scholarship fund. In 2020, we awarded four student scholarships and one adviser scholarship.

Student Scholarships

All Quill and Scroll members as well as national winners in our Yearbook Excellence Contest and International Writing, Photo and Multimedia Contest are eligible to apply for our student scholarships. Applicants must intend to major in journalism or a related area of communications to qualify for the award. The scholarship can be used for tuition, room and board at any college or university. The top prize is $1,500, with other prizes of $500 available.

The student scholarship application deadline is May 15, 2021. Winners will be notified by June 1, 2021.

Adviser Scholarship

The Lester G. Benz Scholarship of $500 is available to teachers who:

  • teach at a Quill and Scroll school,
  • have at least one year teaching high school journalism and/or advising publications,
  • plan to return to the high school classroom and media advising next year AND
  • will apply the information gained in the course work, seminar or workshop taken as a result of this scholarship.

Two letters of recommendation are required to apply. Applications are due by April 30, 2021. Last year’s winner was Laura Bowe of the King School in Connecticut.

Visit here for more information on adviser scholarships. 

WPM closed

Results to come in late March

Our 2021 Writing, Photo and Multimedia Contest closed Monday. This week, all 34 categories were dispersed to our judges. Expect a winners announcement in late March!

Help for editors

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!

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.

We encourage advisers to submit their induction orders sooner rather than later to ensure speedy fulfillment and delivery. As we get closer to the end of the school year, our order numbers tend to increase. Order now to receive your materials sooner!

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?

‘Trans rights are human rights’

Biden signs order preventing discrimination in public schools

President Biden signed an executive order titled, “Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation” in January that expands upon the Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County that protects LGBTQ+ people from workplace discrimination.

The order prohibits sex discrimination in publicly funded schools.

The bill is under scrutiny because of its applied rule in sports: it mandates that all students, including transgender children, should be able to learn in school without experiencing sexual discrimination, including participation in organized sports. Critics claim this hinders athletes assigned female at birth that are competing against trans female athletes because of difference in abilities.

The NCAA allows transgender athletes to compete without requiring gender confirmation, as long as transgender females have undergone hormone treatment for one year. Transgender male athletes can continue competing in women’s sports until they begin transitioning with Testosterone.

Super Bowl LV moments

It was a dull game, but there was no shortage of media material

Are you a Super Bowl commercial junkie? How about a half-time performance reviewer? Or, are you betting on how likely it is that a streaker will make it to the ten yard line? Well, you probably got a kick out of Sunday’s Super Bowl moments.

Commercials, commercials and more commercials

Commercial breaks were filled with celebrities this year performing familiar gimmicks – this doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. Here are a few of my favorites:

Want to see more? Click here. 

The Weeknd’s year-long preparation for his Super Bowl LV performance

In a performance unlike many of its predecessors, The Weeknd’s Super Bowl LV half-time show was extremely complicated – but also so simple. Instead of appearing with a guest performer, The Weeknd tackled the fourteen minute performance solo, nee a few dozen backup dancers dressed in the star’s exact outfit.

Many have speculated about the star’s mysterious physical transformations he has undergone in the past year – unknowingly writing the story four this show. From appearing with bruises and a nose splint, to full face bandages, to extreme plastic surgery and finally to a familiar looking Weeknd, the singer’s costume choices in the last year all told the story of his Super Bowl performance.

“The significance of the entire head bandages is reflecting on the absurd culture of Hollywood celebrity and people manipulating themselves for superficial reasons to please and be validated. It’s all a progression and we watch The Character’s storyline hit heightened levels of danger and absurdity as his tale goes on,” The Weeknd told Variety prior to his Super Bowl performance.

The Weeknd’s performance had an incredibly developed storyline: but the most memorable part? “I Can’t Feel My Face.”

I’ll leave it at that.

Super Bowl streaker makes it all the way to the three-yard-line

It’s every football fans dream (or nightmare): seeing a fan break up a dismal game by running across the field, baring it all. In the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game, Florida resident Yuri Andrade ran onto the field wearing a revealing pink piece of clothing and shorts. He made it all the way to the three-yard-line before being tackled by multiple guards.

After being escorted out of the stadium, Andrade was charged with trespassing and posted $500 bail. He returned home.

Viral talking ‘lawyer cat’ video takes internet by storm

‘I’m here live. I’m not a cat.’

A short video of Presidio County, Texas county lawyer Rod Ponton quickly went viral this week after Ponton was unable to remove a kitten filter from his video camera during a civil forfeiture case hearing.

While the video is less than a minute long, it has quickly gained four and a half million views on YouTube and five million views on Twitter – perhaps on account of the hilariously unscripted encounter between lawyers and judge.

“I’m prepared to go forward with it.” Ponton said.

Can you imagine – your lawyer is a cat?

Just A Thought

How to do corrections

For most publications, their corrections process has not been updated for years: would upgrades improve readers’ trust of the media?

One of the many Twitter accounts I am a fan of includes “Typos of The New York Times,” an independently run Twitter page that points out mistakes in one of Americas most well-known publishers. From The New York Times, to Wikipedia to your county newspaper, media viewers are often fascinated with media mistakes. Often, the discovery of mistakes leads to a distrust of that specific publication. As a journalist, when was the last time you updated your policy on finding, identifying and owning up to mistakes/corrections made in your publication?

In the last three years at VettNews, researchers found most news rooms haven’t updated their corrections process in decades. Yet, nearly every other facet of the media publishing business has vastly grown in just the last decade. To combat this, VettNews created the VettNews Cx tool that allows any viewers of an online article to request a correction to incorrect information.

Watch a tutorial below to learn about implementing this into your own online publication.