December 6, 2021

The Lede

Step aside, Mickey

Disney appoints its first female board chair

Walt Disney Co. has announced that Susan E. Arnold will succeed Robert Iger as chairman of the board, the first time a woman has held the position at the company, effective December 31st.

Arnold, a 14-year member of the Disney board, will look to draw upon her experience in executive positions at Procter & Gamble and the Carlyle Group and as a director of McDonald’s as she assumes a lead role in navigating one of the world’s largest media companies.

Disney has sought to redefine how its female characters act and behave, trading damsels in distress for independent, strong and diverse characters that celebrate female ambition — and this happens to be a step in that direction.

Here’s what you can do:

Women around the world have been making great strides for equality, even in newsrooms.

Publications across the U.S. are being led by women. Places like the Washington Post, Politico, USA Today, and The Economist are among the women-led newsrooms.

Going into the future it’s important that we continue to improve in diversifying our newsrooms in gender, race, and background. That’s the best way we can fully serve and support our communities.

This starts is your current school publications. Make an effort to reach out to other students in an attempt to add new voices and identities to your staff. Your student body will thank you.

The future of abortions in America

Trigger laws will go into effect if Roe V. Wade is overturned

With the Supreme Court looking to uphold the prohibition of abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy in Mississippi, the ruling would be at odds with Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that made access to safe and legal abortions a right. This has over 20 states ready to restrict abortion across the board.

During the Trump administration, a wave of states enacted trigger laws that would automatically go into effect upon an overturning of Roe v. Wade. Most would ban abortion with limited exceptions — like medical emergencies or in cases of rape and incest. They are currently in place in Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

In addition to the trigger laws, nine states still have abortion bans on the books that were enacted before Roe was decided in 1973. Those states — four trigger law states along with Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, West Virginia and Wisconsin — could choose to immediately begin enforcement.

And four other states — Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and South Carolina — passed so-called “heartbeat” laws in recent years that ban abortion after cardiac activity is detectable, which can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. All four laws are currently blocked by courts, but injunctions could be lifted if the Supreme Court overturns Roe.

Here’s what you can do:

Abortion is an issue that has been and will be prevalent in the media. Your job as a journalist is to tell the story in a way that best serves the public. This means reporting objectively.

No matter how you view the topic, objective reporting remains a priority.

When reporting on abortion you want to use concrete evidence and give comprehensive and up-to-date health and law data. It’s always good to use personal testimonies from sources on both sides of the issue to tell how abortion laws have affected their lives.

In order to remain objective, avoid the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice.” The AP Stylebook suggests using “pro-abortion rights” and “anti-abortion” to most objectively describe the sides of the argument.

With that being said, the American Press Institute says that the word “objective” was never meant to describe the journalist, but the process. Meaning, objectivity called for journalists to develop a consistent method of testing information — a transparent approach to evidence — precisely so that personal and cultural biases would not undermine the accuracy of their work.

Even journalists have biases, but good journalists work around them.

The Iron bridge to Mercury’s mystery

Astronomers find a new planet that’s mostly made of iron

An iron-rich planet spotted in a nearby solar system could help scientists understand the mystery of how the planet Mercury formed in our own neighborhood.

The newly described planet is about 31 light years away, according to a report in the journal Science. Astronomers haven’t seen it directly, but they’ve been able to estimate its size and mass by watching its effects on the star that it orbits. It appears that this planet is largely made of iron.

The planet, known as “GJ 367 b,” orbits so close to its red dwarf star that it takes about only eight Earth hours for it to whiz all the way around. Temperatures on the planet’s surface could reach a scorching 1500 degrees Celsius, or about 2700 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s not clear yet if there’s a connection between other close-in worlds like this new one and Mercury, Astronomers say, “but it seems like an interesting clue.”

Here’s what you can do:

Reporting on science can be difficult and confusing, but don’t worry; scientists love talking about their work. Ask a lot of questions and even request that they explain things to you in simple terms.  

When reporting on scientific discoveries or technologies: 

  • Examine the credibility of your source. See what other projects or research they have been a part of and reach out to their superior if needed. 
  • Use numbers that sources give you, but don’t be misleading. Seeing numbers in a story can be helpful for visualizing really complicated things but make sure you give the necessary context and background for those numbers. 
  • Understand the details. It can be hard to report on something if you’re unsure about it yourself. So, do as much research as you can and read other reports on the topic before jumping right in. Any leftover questions should be answered by your sources. 

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

Enter the 2022 Writing, Photo and Multimedia Contest ASAP

When one door closes, 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 was the first day to be able to submit entries for one of our 35 Writing, Photo, and Multimedia Contest categories. This is a journalism contest, organized by journalists, administered by journalists and judged by journalists. We don’t dabble in art contests or creative writing here at Quill and Scroll.

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?

Gold Medals to Knitting Needles

Olympic diver and knitter Tom Daley launches his own online knitting shop

British diver Tom Daley won fans for his habit of knitting between events at the Tokyo Olympics. Now he’s converted that hobby into a business, launching a website that sells knitting kits for sweaters, blankets, accessories and even a pink flamingo named Elvis.

Daley’s “Made with Love” site recently went live, giving his fans — many of whom have long followed his knitting exploits on Instagram — a new chance to purl along with the 27-year-old gold medalist.

After the diving star was spotted knitting in Tokyo, he said it helped him cope with the stress of Olympic competition. He was prolific enough to create a knitting-specific account, where he sold doggie jumpers and other projects to benefit charities. That account is now devoted to his online store, which also carries a line of clothing.

Here’s what you can do:

People all over the world have picked up new hobbies during the pandemic. Some are more productive than others but new skills none the less.

This is a good opportunity to learn why having a hobby helped people throughout the pandemic.

A 2015 study in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that engaging in leisure activities improved mood and stress levels and lowered heart rates. In 2017, a small study in Psychosomatic Medicine found that pleasant leisure activities lowered the blood pressure of Alzheimer’s disease caregivers. Long story short, in a time when everything feels out of control we needed all the extra peace and happiness we could get during the pandemic.

What hobbies or activities did people in your community develop over the year? Highlight those and tell the story of how these activities improved their lives.

BuzzFeeding the fire

BuzzFeed News Union employees walk off the job

Members of the BuzzFeed News union announced early Thursday morning that they’re striking today, which coincides with a shareholder meeting to vote on whether BuzzFeed goes public at a valuation of $1.5 billion.

The union’s main demands, after nearly two years of trying to negotiate a first contract with the company, is that BuzzFeed offer more than 1% guaranteed raises every year and offer more than a $50,000 salary base for employees, especially since BuzzFeed’s offices are located in expensive cities like New York and San Francisco.

The union is also pushing back on other aspects of what they say BuzzFeed management is trying to do, such as creative control of employees’ work outside their regular job and disciplinary action for metrics and traffic.

BuzzFeed News helped earn the publication its first Pulitzer Prize earlier this year, and is hoping to leverage that power to speed up negotiations with the company.

Here’s what you can do: 

Unions have been making big moves this year as we see various strikes take place across the U.S.

This specific issue brings up what the expectations of a news publication should be. Establishing healthy rules and regulations for a publication without being overbearing is important to be able to attract good, respectable writers.

Now we all know that a journalism job isn’t the highest paid profession by any means and journalists are severely underpaid. So this begs the question of how much should they be paid? While student journalists tend to start their careers simply making experience this is a good conversation to have to prepare you for what to expect in a career later on.

An affinity for financial stability

The first and only major newspaper to become a nonprofit is financially sustainable

While we are on the topic of money and the financial difficulties of being a journalist, the Salt Lake Tribune is the first major newspaper to become a nonprofit, and after years of layoffs, it is growing its newsroom again. 

Utah’s largest newspaper escaped the clutches of the hedge fund Alden Global Capital in 2016 only to see its local owner, Paul Huntsman, lay off a third of staff two years later in the face of plunging ad revenue. In 2019, The Tribune made history as the first daily newspaper to become a nonprofit. And then amid the height of the pandemic last year, the Tribune ended a 149-year run of printing a daily newspaper and a 68-year-old joint partnership with the Deseret News.

The Tribune grew its newsroom 23% in the last year and will add new reporting roles focused on education, business, solutions journalism, food, and culture in 2022.

Here’s what you can do with this:

Not-for-profit organizations are types of organizations that do not earn profits for its owners. All of the money earned by or donated to a not-for-profit organization is used in pursuing the organization’s objectives and keeping it running.

Typically, organizations in the nonprofit sector are tax-exempt charities or other types of public service organizations and news publications are public service organizations so why aren’t more of them nonprofits?

Well, journalism is an expensive business. Being a nonprofit doesn’t change the need to make money to pay for the people, time, and resources needed to produce journalism.

While the work of journalists has value to society, anyone can enjoy these benefits without having to pay for it, being interested in it, or even being aware of it.

Making the case for enough people in a community to provide enough funding to keep going for years and years is challenging and necessary. It may be one way to start to repair the loss of trust in and public engagement with journalism in North America.

As young journalists, we have the ability to start making the shifts needed to make our future newsrooms non-profit, but how do we do that? Only time will tell.

Just A Thought

Student Press Freedom Day

SPLC offering learning opportunities now, ahead of February event

By Jeff Browne
Quill and Scroll Executive Director

February may seem far away, what with the holidays here (Happy Hanukkah!) and approaching, but there’s quite a bit already happening in advance of Student Press Freedom Day, set for Feb. 24, 2022.

First, the Quill and Scroll Student Advisory Board will be meeting next week with Student Press Law Center representatives to discuss how we can help plan, prepare for and promote Student Press Freedom Day, which exists to support you — student-journalists and journalism advisers.

We at Quill and Scroll encourage you to create an activity for your Quill and Scroll chapter that centers around Student Press Freedom Day. The SPLC has created this list of suggested activities that coincide perfectly with our goals and mission.

The theme for this year’s events is “Unmute Yourself,” and it includes a few important learning sessions, which you can read about and register for on the Student Press Freedom Day website.

The first is set for Thursday, Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. ET. It’s the “Op-Ed Crash Course,” which is designed to help prepare you to write effective editorials about your First Amendment rights as well as other issues important to you.

Here are the other SPLC events set for early 2022:

  • “Responding to Press Freedom Threats Through Advocacy,” set for Jan. 26;
  • “How to Tell Your Story and be a Spokesperson for Student Press Freedom,” scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 3; and 
  • “Using Social Media as a Journalist & an Advocate,” set for Feb. 10.

Student Press Freedom Day is part of Scholastic Journalism Week, scheduled Feb. 21-27, 2022. It’s theme is “What We Do Matters.”

One note: Feb. 24, 2022 happens to be the 53rd anniversary of the Tinker vs. Des Moines decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which gave unprecedented freedom to high school students to wear, say and write what they feel is important, given a set of limitations that include libel, invasion of privacy, encouragements to break the law and threats to the orderly conduct of a school’s business.

In addition, the Kansas Scholastic Press Association has scheduled an event for this Wednesday discussing the 1988 Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier decision, which restricted student speech in situations where administrators have “legitimate pedagogical concerns” about the speech. Of course, more than a dozen states have implemented anti-Hazelwood laws to restore the Tinker standard in those states, but much work remains to “Cure Hazelwood.”

Whatever you decide to do to commemorate, write about or prepare for Scholastic Journalism Week and Student Press Freedom Day, Quill and Scroll will support you.