November 29, 2021

The Lede

A new variant?!?

Omicron variant spreads to North America, Australia and more of Europe

As more cases of the omicron variant are revealed around the world, President Biden was briefed Sunday by his COVID-19 response team, including his chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not announced any cases of the omicron variant in the U.S., but Fauci said Sunday that it is inevitable that there will be confirmed cases at some point.

The variant has already been identified in cases in Botswana, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Israel, the Netherlands, Australia and Hong Kong.

Scientists are not certain where the variant originated, but the mutations of the virus were first identified by scientists in South Africa and the World Health Organization deemed it a “variant of concern” on Friday, given its already rapid spread.

Here’s what you can do:

This story sounds a little familiar doesn’t it? Another new strain of COVID-19 named with another letter from the Greek alphabet. It can feel like the pandemic will never end.

Nevertheless, the pandemic is still prominent in our lives and we need to document that.

What does the new strain even mean?

In order to tell this story, you will, of course, need to talk to experts and ask how a new strain will affect us. Will our vaccines still be affective? Will we need to quarantine again? These are questions that an epidemiologist can answer. (An epidemiologist studies, you guessed it, epidemic viruses.)

Next you will also want to talk to your community to ask what they know about a new strain? Are they concerned? The community voice is always super important for pandemic stories.

Help Wanted

How understaffed are stores? Smaller retailers feel the holiday-shopping strain

The Great Resignation hit retail like a tidal wave during the pandemic. Workers have quit at record or near record rates — over coronavirus fears, angry customers, hectic schedules or pay that was lower than unemployment benefits temporarily boosted by the federal government.

Last month, even Amazon said that its primary constraint, for the first time, was the lack of available workers rather than warehousing space.

Large retailers have attacked the staffing problem with massive hiring campaigns and new perks like triple-digit signing bonuses, free college tuition and suddenly, higher wages.

These large stores are fine for the holidays. You know who isn’t? Small and local businesses. They find themselves competing for workers not only against the deep-pocketed giants, but also restaurants and warehouses. And this year, everyone needs more workers than ever before — because shoppers have flooded back with record spending.

Here’s what you can do:

There are two aspects of the staffing shortage. Do people not want these jobs anymore or has the human race realized $7.25 isn’t enough?

You will want to talk to workers and employers alike. Tell the story of how the staffing shortage is affecting your community with the busiest shopping season right around the corner.

Are workers feeling the strain, and do they feel as though they are being justly compensated for their work? And how are the local businesses in your area faring with the staffing shortage?

It’s An Honor

YEC winners posted

Our yearbook contest results are final and official!

The long-awaited day has finally arrived, and the Yearbook Excellence Contest Winners have been announced.

Check out our website for the list of winners.

We are so proud of everyone who entered and congratulations to all of our winners!

Editorial Contest winners

Pakistani students earn awards in first Editorial Contest, co-sponsored by Eye on Ivy

Eight students will be awarded Quill and Scroll Gold Keys for their submissions in the first Editorial Writing Contest for Pakistani students, co-sponsored by Eye on Ivy and Quill and Scroll.

The winning entries deftly explained how Pakistani teenagers, much like Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, could help lead the world away from climate catastrophe. Here are the winners, along with a link to the first-place editorials and a short comment from the contest’s judges, professional environmental. journalists from the U.S. and Canada.

Here’s a link to the winning Class B entry (Grades 11-13).

Here’s a link to the winning Class A entry (Grades 9-10).

WPM Contest opens

Dec. 1 is the first day to enter 2022 Writing, Photo and Multimedia Contest

When one door opens, another one opens. The contest door that is. Just because the Yearbook Excellence Contest is over for this year doesn’t mean that the fun stops there.

Dec. 1 is the first day to be able to submit entries for one of our 35 Writing, Photo, and Multimedia Contest categories.

Last year saw more than 3,100 entries from the U.S., South Korea, Canada and China, and 320 students were honored. Here is the slideshow of the 2021 winners, including all first-, second- and third-place entries. Here are all the winners, including all the honorable mentions.

This year’s contest will also see a slight rise in the contest entry price. Entries in most writing, photo and design categories will cost $7, while more detailed categories (Multimedia Features Package, In-Depth Team Reporting, Documentary Film, for example) will cost $15 each.

The deadline for entries is Friday, Feb. 4, 2022. All entries must have been published online or in a publication, either school-based or professional.

What’s Viral?

The rise and fall and rise of the Mullet

Meet the mullet queen of Lansing, Michigan

After a bad hair day years ago, Ashley Medina decided she needed a hairstyle that would look cool no matter what.

The hairstylist said the only thing that came to mind was a mullet. So she shaved the sides of her head, cut the hair on top to finger length and left 10 inches of long curly black tresses flowing down her back.

The infamous haircut may have risen to mainstream fame in the ’80s, but the hairstyle has been around for centuries. The roots of the modern mullet can be traced back to Native American people from the far northeastern corner of Oregon. Chief Joseph, a leader of the Nez Perce Indians of that area, kept a mulleted look of spiky bangs in the front, braids on the side and long hair in the back.

Mullets are so popular Ashley Medina says she may have to give up doing any other kind of haircuts.

Here’s what you can do:

Love them or hate them, mullets are back.

Some people dye their hair, some people shave their heads. Every hairstyle is different just like the people who sport them. Show off the mullets in your community and branch further to find out how hairstyles can help people to express themselves.

Ask local hairdressers why hair can be so expressive but also find out how trends fade in and out over time and why. You might uncover so much history behind hair and how it has been used through time and culture.

Nothing like popcorn and a movie … at home?

Two new movie debuted this Thanksgiving break —“Encanto” and “House of Gucci,” which could only be seen in theaters this weekend. Even still, some viewers stayed home.

Domestic ticket sales for “Encanto” nonetheless set a pandemic-era record for an animated film. That glory is somewhat hollow, given that every other major animated film since March 2020 has been released simultaneously in theaters and on streaming services.

Streaming services have proven to increase the audience of pandemic-age movies while simultaneously dipping into the profits of theaters across the country.

Here’s what you can do with this:

We all love to be able to watch movies from the comfort of our couch with the ability to pause for bathroom breaks, no one is denying that. However, I do sometimes miss the intimacy and excitement of seeing a movie in theaters.

That written, the number of streaming services is only increasing and the capabilities of these providers are expanding.

The pandemic has changed the way we watch movies and the theaters around us have had to adapt.

What can movies theaters do to save themselves? What have theaters in your area already done to combat the dip in patrons?

Find out the number of people these theaters see daily and compare to the number of people pre-pandemic. You can, and should, also see if they have had to change their prices in order to counteract a possible lack of customers. Finally, see if they expect numbers to return to normal of if this is the new normal.

Could streaming possibly make movie theaters completely obsolete? Besides, where else will you be able to rub shoulders with a stranger while sitting through half an hour of commercials?

Just A Thought


Journalism in the 21st century

By Lauren White, Q&S Communications Coordinator (and Twitter lover)

Journalism has changed a lot since the days of the printing press. People use to have to seek out the news by opening their front door and finding a physical newspaper. Now, all you have to do is open your phone.

Twitter and other social media platforms are so important to the world of news circulation and truth seeking. I highly suggest you make yourself an active user of these sites.

I know social media can already feel like a chore sometime, but building and maintaining a strong brand on a Twitter profile can do you wonders as a journalist.

You can share your stories, and others that you find interesting, as well as develop pitches form things you see on your news feed.

Being active on Twitter can actually help you to become a more prominent and recognizable journalist. If someone can recognize your name in a by-line, they will be more likely to, not only read the story, but believe it.

Building your brand doesn’t have to be robotic or formal. Just tweet and tweet constantly. Tweet about things you do, things you love, and even things you hate. Remember to come back around to tweeting about journalism or being a journalist frequently.

Here’s what Twitter recommends you do to help build your brand:

  • Choose the right profile picture. Namely, one with your face in it. You want it to be pretty simple but it can show your personality.
  • Stay Current. Whether you Tweet about the upcoming holiday or your local sports team’s recent win, show your followers that you’re aware of the world outside your own brand.
  • Proofread your tweets. People really won’t trust you as a journalist if you misspell most of your tweets. Part of building a reputation is building trust and rapport with consumers.
  • Be positive. You want to be a resource that people enjoy turning to for their news. When you seem personable and friendly, they will be more attached to the stories you produce. Regardless if your brand is funny, smart, cool, or even sassy, it’s important to be positive.

Just because we’ve replaced the daily paper with a scroll through Twitter, doesn’t mean our news is disingenuine. In fact, I think it means the opposite. It shows the world that journalists are real people and that the news stories they find happen to real people. Social media has given a face to writers and opened up the eyes of so many by allowing them to see what is happening across the world rather than just in their own communities.