November 15, 2021

The Lede

Who runs the world? Teens!

A UK renewable energy provider appointed six young people to sit on an advisory board

Good Energy, a renewable energy provider in the UK, appointed six kids, ages 12 to 17, to sit on a their new advisory board back in March — no adults allowed.

This Good Future Board holds regular meetings, where its members have the opportunity to present ideas to the firm’s chief executive and other bosses, and question business decisions.

They were appointed after more than 1,000 school children across England entered a competition organized via environmental charity Eco-Schools.

According to multiple studies, Gen Z is now the most populous generation on Earth — and they care a whole lot about the environment they will grow old in.

Here’s what you can do:

Teenagers are smart, and their opinions matter. When they are the ones that will have to suffer the consequences of climate change decisions made now, why wouldn’t they want to change that?

This story brings up a great question. What do young people think the solution to climate change is or should be?

Ask young people at your school and community this question as well as why they believe prioritizing the environment is important. Then, turn to professionals and see how if their solutions are feasible.

This story is an opportunity for you to get to know other teenagers and teach your readers about climate change.

Opening textbooks and eyes

California Gov. Newsom will require public schools to teach ethnic studies

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law this month that will require all California public schools to require their students to take an ethnic studies class.

Under the new law, high schoolers will be taught about the struggles and contributions of African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans and other ethnic groups, “which have often been untold in U.S. history courses,” according to the state’s model ethnic studies curriculum.

California’s student population is highly diverse — less than a quarter of public K-12 students are white. Through ethnic studies courses, students can learn their own stories as well as those of their classmates, Newsom said.

Here’s what you can do:

This law is the first thing like it in the nation, so for California students your story can be all about the bill and how community members and school faculty feel about it. Everyone outside of California can look to the state as a ‘What If’ and question your own community.

Additionally, has your state made a similar laws or laws that contradict ones like California’s? The topic of education and what should be taught it schools have been prevalent in many state legislatures lately, and you might be surprised to see that some things have taken affect in your area.

Every publication outlet has an Education beat, so learning the ins and out of reporting on K-12 policies and events is a good way to prepare yourself for a possible future beat.

Say goodbye to anonymity

Companies and governments are forcing users to prove how old they are

In response to mounting pressure from activists, parents and regulators who believe tech companies haven’t done enough to protect children online, businesses and governments around the globe are placing major parts of the internet behind stricter digital age checks.

People in Japan must provide a document proving their age to use the dating app Tinder. The popular game Roblox requires players to upload a form of government identification — and a selfie to prove the ID belongs to them — if they want access to a voice chat feature. Laws in Germany and France require pornography websites to check visitors’ ages.

The changes, which have picked up speed over the last two years, could upend one of the internet’s central traits: the ability to remain anonymous. Since the days of dial-up modems and AOL chat rooms, people could traverse huge swaths of the web without divulging any personal details. Many people created an online persona entirely separate from their offline one.

Here’s what you can do:

The goal of this new rule is to protect children potential harm by being proactive. Do parents think it will be enough?

A million possible dangers exist on the internet, but there are also a million positive things. It’s good for websites themselves to be vigilant, but this is an opportunity to teach readers how to be aware and smart on the internet. If everyone is being proactive, it can better protect minors.

Digital literacy is important for journalists, too. In order to put our own work out onto the web you have to know safe and smart ways to access information yourself. A digital literacy workshop can be incorporated into the newsroom by doing one every year just to refresh both new and returning reporters.

It’s An Honor

Yearbook results

The judges are almost finished with their work in the Q&S Yearbook Excellence Contest

The judges are almost done, as Monday, Nov. 15 marks their final day of picking the winners in the annual Yearbook Excellence Contest. Quill and Scroll staff will review the entries and judgements this week, and we’ll have results ready by Monday, Nov. 29, when everyone gets back from Thanksgiving break.

Stay tuned to our Twitter feed and this webpage to learn the results in all 30 categories and in both classes A and B.

Brokaw’s cache

History through the eyes of a journalist

Quill and Scroll board member, Patrick Johnson, worked alongside Tom Brokaw, now retired TV journalist, to create an interactive timeline to showcase historical events, Brokaw’s press passes for those events, and videos of the events.

You can check out the timeline here and experience history through your own computer.

Looking for student investigators

Q&S student board wants to read and promote your in-depth work

The Quill & Scroll Student Advisory Board is looking for samples of high-quality investigative pieces done by students journalists. These pieces may be posted on the Quill & Scroll website as examples for other aspiring investigative journalists in high school to follow.

You can submit a link OR pdf of the article here to nominate your work.

PSJP opens Nov. 30

Princeton offers free journalism workshop for high-achievers from low-income backgrounds

The Princeton Summer Journalism Program offers a tuition-free journalism institute and college counseling program for high-achieving high school juniors from low-income backgrounds. Participants spend 10 days in late July/early August at Princeton University, where they learn about inquiry and truth in reporting through workshops taught by Princeton professors and professional journalists. The summer institute culminates in the publication of the student-produced newspaper, The Princeton Summer Journal.

The application opens Nov. 30 and will be due in late February. Students apply through three rounds of consideration during their junior year and participate the following summer.

More information and the application portal will be available through their website. 

What’s Viral?

Festival turns deadly

Rapper Travis Scott’s annual Astroworld concert leaves eight dead and hundreds injured.

Thousands of people attended the annual “Astroworld” festival hosted by Travis Scott in Houston Texas. An estimated 50,000 people attended, during which the crowd pushed forward, effectively crushing multiple concert-goers, resulting in multiple events of cardiac arrest and other injuries.

Eight people have died, twenty-five were hospitalized, and hundreds were treated on-site for injuries. The ages  of the deceased victims range from 14-27, and the youngest fatality was just 9 years old.

The biggest criticism of the event is that the concert continued to go on after people had called 911 and an ambulance attempted to make its way into the crowd. Viral videos on TikTok and other social media platforms show people in the crowd chanting, “Stop the show,” while it continued.

This isn’t the first time Travis Scott has been criticized for the violent nature of his concerts. Scott was arrested after Lollapalooza in 2015 after encouraging fans to rush the stage and bypass security guards. He also plead guilty to disorderly conduct after a similar incident in 2018 at a concert in Arkansas.

Here’s what you can do:

The biggest question arising after the concert is who’s at fault. Some believe that Travis Scott should be in jail for inciting a riot, while others blame the show-runners who allowed the concert to continue after multiple 911 calls.

As a high school journalist, it’s important to get multiple opinions when something this tragic happens. Understanding different perspectives helps us grow as reporters. Ask people in your community what concert guidelines should be put in place for audiences and performers. Should there be a minimum age requirement for larger festivals like this? Gather information and find out what your community thinks.

Swift re-releases popular album

Taylor Swift releases Red, Taylor’s Version on Friday, November 12

After a very public battle with her former record label, Big Machine Records, Swift made the public announcement that she was going to re-record her masters. This comes after Swift announced that she was refused the opportunity to purchase her former master records with the label, which date back to when the artist was 16.

Her album, Red, was originally released in 2012 with 20 tracks. The new version will include 10 extra songs not originally featured on the album, with guest artists including Ed Sheeran, Chris Stapleton, and Phoebe Bridgers. The release also includes a short film based on one of her songs, All Too Well. Written and directed by Swift, the short film stars Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien, as well as Swift herself.

This will be the second album re-recorded by Swift. Red (Taylor’s Version), follows the release of Fearless (Taylor’s Version), which happened in April. As the first rerecording of her albums, Fearless (which won album of the year at the 2010 Grammys) broke the charts and grossed 401,000 album sales in the first six months.

Here’s what you can do with this:

Find a skilled musician on your staff who might be able to do an informed review comparing the two versions of the album. And, if you’re a reviewer, don’t be afraid to consult a professional musician, a producer or a music teacher to help you understand what may be subtle differences in the releases. Just because you’re writing an opinion doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do interviews and research before you begin to write.

One thing a lot of people don’t consider is the rights of every artist. Swift is not the first singer to rerecord her masters. Def Leopard and Jojo have also rerecorded albums after falling out with their own respective record labels. An important piece of this puzzle is also understanding that Swift signed her label agreement at 15, signing away the right to own her own music.

Aaron Rodgers tests positive for Coronavirus

After claiming to be “immunized”, the NFL quarterback is quarantined with positive test result.

In an interview on the “Pat McAfee Show,” Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he refused to get vaccinated because he is allergic to vaccines, which he claimed put him in “crosshairs of the woke mob.” After his diagnosis, Rodgers was required to follow NFL protocol as an unvaccinated player and quarantine for 10 days, causing him to miss the Packers game to the Kansas City Chiefs.

He returned this weekend to help the Packers defeat the Seattle Seahawks.

Earlier in the year, Rodgers had evaded and misled questioners who asked if he had been vaccinated. He answered that he had been “immunized.”

Rodgers is now under fire for his comments made in the interview with Pat McAfee, where he said, “Look, I shared an opinion that is polarizing, I get it, and I misled some people about my status, which I’ve taken full responsibility of, those comments. But in the end, I have to stay true to who I am and what I’m about, and I stand behind the things that I said.”

Here’s what you can do with this:

Misinformation in this day and age is everywhere. In fact, it’s even shared by the world’s most popular celebrities and athletes. It’s always a shock for thoughtful and truthful journalists to learn that sources will deliberately mislead you or directly lie to your face. It’s a sad fact in today’s uber-politicized U.S.

An important aspect of this piece of news is understanding the difference between allowing someone to have an opinion, and allowing them to share misinformation with the general public.

Someone like Aaron Rodgers has a vast platform and reachers millions of easily influenced fans. Ask students in your community if they value the political and informational opinions of their favorite celebrities, and why. What do other students in your school think about this?

Just A Thought

On the fly

A story is built on good interviews and thorough research

By Lauren White
Q&S Communications Coordinator

Every good story is made up of a bunch of inquisitive and insightful interviews with sources, as well as background research to verify the interviewee’s claims and to provide other germane information and data.

Conducting a good, journalistic interview comes from more than just sitting and listening, though.

Every good journalist prepares for their interview as much as they can. Of course, with breaking news or last minute assignments, you have to learn to interview on the fly. You want to familiarize yourself with background on the topic — because you can’t find out what you want to know without knowing what you don’t know. (Simple, right?)

Reporters should also strive to establish a good relationship with your source. This means being respectful, polite and calling them by their desired titles. This does not mean bribing them or letting them push you around — respect is a two way street, even between reporters and sources.

Ask questions that will entice your source to talk at length. Try to avoid yes or no questions. I like to have a question in every category: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. Not only will you ask your prepared questions, but you need to listen to what they say and follow up with questions on things that were not explained enough or that you found interesting.

That leads to one of the final rules I like to follow when interviewing a source: listen and watch attentively. You want to actually take in what your source in saying, not just in your notes but really retain it in your brain. It will make writing the story a lot easier when you can remember what they said to you. When the time comes, now or post-COVID, to hold in-person interviews again, it’s important to pay attention to your surroundings. Make your readers feel like they were there with you by describing the look and feelings of the sources office, home, or community.

Obviously, you want to record your interviews (make sure you get permission from sources) in order to keep track of direct quotes, but don’t rely on the recording alone. Engage in the interview by taking notes, and asking follow up questions to really understand every thing your source has to say.

Remember, you don’t always have to use all of the quotes a source gives you. Sometimes they will say things that just don’t add to the story and that’s okay. It’s better to have too much than too little when it comes to interviews with sources.