Jan 3, 2022

The Lede

A new kind of generation gap

Study finds that climate change will be more disastrous for future generations

According to a study done by over 30 scientists, today’s kids will experience three times as many climate disasters as their grandparents. The lead author of the study said that this outcome can be avoided by taking dramatic steps to reduce emissions at the UN climate summit this fall that will feature 400 young climate activists

This can be a scary report for young people to hear, but that is why it’s so important that stories about climate change are told.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Read this article from Poynter where Huac, a climate change reporter, gives us a rundown on how to report on the environmental crisis.
    • Focus on more vulnerable populations: that could mean going to nearby towns to see how climate change affects them or looking internally. 
    • Keep yourself, your sources, and your community accountable: Ask clear questions and demand clear answers. Many of the sources you will want to talk to about climate change are the perpetrators of it like corporations. 
    • Remain hopeful: this can be a hard one. With such a devastating topic, it’s important to shine light on groups or people who are doing good in the name of climate change just as much as those who are influencing it. 


Facebook puts pause on development of kid-oriented Instagram app

In March, executives at Instagram were starting on the beginning steps for developing an Instagram app designed just for kids under the age of 13. However, they just announced that they will be taking a pause in this development amid concerns from parents and child development experts. 

This is not the first time experts were concerned with an app that Facebook was designing for children. Similar concerns arose during the development of the “Facebook Messenger Kids” app in 2018. The executives at Facebook followed through with that app, but we will have to wait to see the outcome of Instagram for kids. 

Here’s what you can do:

News of something not happening is still news!

  • Ask your community, specifically parents and teachers, what they feel the rules of social media for kids should be. Would they let their children or students get an Instagram if they knew it was meant for kids? 
  • According to Common Sense Media, 53 percent of children in the U.S. own some kind of smartphone by the time they are 11. Is this representative of your community? 
  • Make sure you talk to people who argue both sides of the conversation. While smartphones and social media at a young age can be detrimental to some, others have found that it has improved the lives and motor skills of this generation. Find people who have good things to say and find those who have bad things to say — there really is no right or wrong answer in this discussion. 

The view from an atmosphere away

A new NASA Mission has launched to monitor Earth landscape from space

Landsat 9, a NASA satellite built to monitor the Earth’s land surface, successfully launched on Monday and joined its sister satellite Landsat 8. The first Landsat launched in 1972 and since then, NASA has always kept one in orbit. 

It’s always exciting to see new scientific advances especially when it comes to new space technologies. 

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. 

‘I know who I am’

Trans Texas kids barred from competing under their gender identity

A new law is now in effect in Texas that bans trans students from competing in athletics under their gender identity. That means transgender and non-binary students, if they want to compete, would have to be assigned to either a girls’ or a boys’ sport by the school and state. Hmmm.

Here’s what you can do:

Begin with Quill and Scroll’s commitment to friendship, meaning student journalists should provide every person in your community a chance to have their stories heard and to explain the issues at play in decisions made by school boards and state legislatures.

In this case, tell the story of trans athletes, both at your school and in a broader context. Here’s a rundown from The Daily Beast of the various legislative efforts — and the work being done by the American Civil Liberties Union and others in support of trans rights.

In addition, the ACLU has published a helpful guide entitled “Four Myths About Transgender Athletes.”  Keep in mind that the ACLU is openly working for trans athletes’ rights.

And here’s a list of 15 famous transgender athletes with compelling stories.

Finally, download and use the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association Stylebook to help you use the most appropriate words when writing about trans athletes.

It’s An Honor

WPM Contest opens

Enter the 2022 Writing, Photo and Multimedia Contest ASAP

You are now 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.

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. All entries must have been published online or in a publication, either school-based or professional.

NEW! PSJA Journalism Contest

The Private School Journalism Association has partnered with Quill and Scroll to honor the best journalism by private and independent school students. This “portfolio” contest looks to reward students for a pattern of excellence in journalistic work throughout an academic year.

With 12 potential entering categories, students can show off their chops from published news or yearbook material.

The deadline for entries is April 1, 2022. Students may submit work published between April 1 2021 and March 31 2022. A virtual awards ceremony will be held on May 15 to announce the winners. Additionally, the top placing school will win free memberships into Quill and Scroll.

Alumni Service

Have you ever wondered if there’s someone like Fred “Mr.” Rogers (Greater Latrobe HS, 1946) or Debra Messing (East Greenwich HS, 1983) among your school’s Quill and Scroll alumni? How about journalists, writers and teachers such as Ryan Foley, Barbara Tholen, Dan Fellner, and Chris Barton. 

Quill and Scroll has the names of every student ever inducted into your school’s Q&S chapter. Those names are easy to access from the period 2004-2021, but it takes a little longer to get those names between 1926 and 2003, when all memberships were recorded on cards that now reside in the basement of the Adler Journalism Building here at the University of Iowa.

If you’re interested in building a list of distinguished journalism alumni from your school, just contact [email protected] and use the phrase “Q&S ALUMNI LIST” in your subject line. 

For a cost of $50/hour, we’ll retrieve those names and sort them for you by year of induction and get them back to you in time for a fundraising dinner or a special ceremony celebrating student journalism at your school.

What’s Viral?

From print to digital

One school’s journey to taking their print publication into a virtual environment

For Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, the COVID-19 pandemic meant the possibility of the death for their print news publication, The Bates Student. With a weak online presence and dwindling print subscribers, the pandemic meant no in-person distribution, work days or coverage (does this sound familiar for any schools out there?).

The Bates Student editor-in-chief Vanessa Paolella was faced with a decision: leave print newspapers in the past, or eliminate the publication overall. Paolella chose to increase the publication’s online presence — which she admits to Poynter, wasn’t a difficult decision.

“Without the hassle of putting together a print paper, we had more time to focus on our reporting, and we were saving money, too. More than anything, people were finally paying attention to The Student,” Paolella said.

Paolella outlined the top five tips for increasing your digital strategy for your school’s publication:

  1. The transition to a virtual format will cost money – but it’s worth it.
  2. A digital first mindset decreases stress and allows for more flexibility.
  3. Breaking news can be prioritized.
  4. Increased readership brought by a digital format increases your accountability measures.
  5. Don’t eliminate your print footprint entirely – print special editions of your issues.

Read more about her student-led transition here.

Here’s what you can do:

Can we still call it the start of a new school year? No matter the time, always be looking for areas of improvement within your publications. Has digital taken a back burner to your traditional print issues? Analyze what markets you may be able to expand to if you spend more time developing your digital strategy. In retrospect, this should be done on at least an annual basis.

If you’ve already taken steps to increase your footprint in a previously unexplored area, nail down ways in which you can make this better. Are there any trips and tricks you can take from professional and scholastic organizations that you admire? In all, always be ready for change and constantly look for areas of improvement.

Tom Brady post-football

QB12 talks wellness, fashion, football and legacy in new interview

It’s difficult to separate Tom Brady from football (no, seriously, no one can seem to physically get him away from the game, even after 22 seasons). But a new article in WSJ Magazine seeks to explore TB12 beyond the field, delving into life, passions, and his potential separation from football.

After Brady’s abrupt move to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season from two decades spent with the New England Patriots, the world was introduced to a new Brady — or, at least, a side of Brady no one had seen before. He spent the next football season accustoming himself to a new environment, chumming it up with his old buddy Gronk, and winning, another, Super Bowl trophy.

Now, Brady says he’s in an in-between stage of life: exploring the opportunities he has outside of football, and still spending time being the GOAT. What comes next, who knows? It’s guaranteed that Brady will spend at least one more season with the Bucs. Right now? We’ll just look forward to him facing off in Foxboro Sunday.

Here’s what you can do with this:

They don’t make pro athletes like Tom Brady. Whether you loathe the guy for beating your team or worship him for being 44, one of the best QB’s in the game and married to an international super model, you’ve got to respect his talent. But, like any person, Brady has identities outside of football.

When we think about covering individuals and profiles, it’s important to expand your views beyond the major reason you’re talking with them. It would have been easy for Jason Gay, the author of this piece, to ask Brady about just one factor of his life – but he didn’t. Because he took a broad view and allowed the conversation to be explorative, the audience received a well-rounded profile on one of the most famous men in sports. Not only do we learn something from the article, but Gay lets the reader know they are going to learn something. 

Next time you sit down to interview someone for a profile, challenge yourself to go beyond the predictable questions. What can your article explore that others have not tackled yet? Make your article stand out from the crowd – especially if you’re writing a profile about a well-known figure.

$1 no more

Dollar Tree to start offering ‘plus’ section

Is there anything better than finding a treasure for a singular George Washington? In my humble opinion, nope.

If you’re a bargain hunter like me, this news might break your heart a bit. The CEO of bargain chain Dollar Tree announced Wednesday the stores will begin carrying a, “Dollar Tree Plus” section, featuring items over the store’s promised $1 price and go anywhere up to $5.

While several hundred stores are already featuring items in this section, all 8,000 stores will be adopting the change soon. CEO Michael Witynski says the change has been requested by shoppers. Additionally, raising prices will help combat increased shipping costs and widespread inflation seen during 2021. What is worth $1 now is vastly different than ten years ago – this adoption by Dollar Tree may help close the gap of the items customers expect to see on shelves.

Similar bargain chains like Dollar General and Five Below also carry sections with items featuring higher prices than what’s stated in their tag lines.

Here’s what you can do with this:

Even if you attend the most expensive prep school in the world, there are people in your school who are not among the most fortunate. They need to shop in places like Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, etc.

Profiling their family’s struggles to make ends meet may seem intrusive — and if you approach the project with the wrong mindset, it will be intrusive.

But if you approach the story from Quill and Scroll’s perspective of “friendship,” you’re more likely to portray the family in a human light, to create empathy for them. And if your story draws the attention of decision-makers who can help, that’s the ultimate goal of journalism — making life better for people who deserve better.

Just A Thought

Diversify in 2022!

Your publication staff should reflect the diversity in your community

As an industry, we’re whiter, more educated and more middle to upper class … more urban … more liberal and more secular. — Joy Mayer

Spring semester is often the most difficult time on a high school publications staff. The promise of the new academic year — as well as the excitement that accompanies choosing a yearbook theme or breaking a big story — has faded, and more deadlines press on every person, both students and advisers.

Beyond those deadlines, however, sits one of the most important activities a staff engages in — recruiting next year’s staff.

In this essay for the Nieman Lab at Harvard, Joy Mayer issues some challenges for journalists in the coming year.

  • Acknowledge your own biases.
  • Empower all staff members to speak freely.
  • Build relationships in the community/school you cover.
  • Recruit people onto the staff who have different experiences and views than the majority of people already around.

All of those things should be done with a view toward diversity of race, ethnicity, gender, viewpoint, and religion, among other descriptors.

Here’s another teaser quote from Mayer:

We’re better off when our team represents a variety of lived experiences. Let’s make this the year we get honest about who we are and how that affects our work.