March 28. 2022

The Lede

By Elena Mozhvilo via Unsplash

Biden’s historic speech

U.S President says the world would be better off without Putin in ‘power’

U.S. President Joe Biden delivered a forceful speech Saturday in Warsaw, Poland, calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “butcher” because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resulting attacks on civilians in several of Ukraine’s major cities.

Biden also said that the sooner Putin has no power, the better. He also likened Putin’s assault on democracy to the world’s fight against fascism during World War II, a time in which Americans had to ration goods such as coffee, sugar, gasoline and metals in order to fight Adolph Hitler’s Nazi war machine.

“There will be costs, but the price we have to pay, because the darkness that drives autocracy is ultimately no match for the flame of liberty that lights the souls of free people everywhere,” Biden told the crowd gathered in Warsaw, a city that has welcomed many of the 2 million Ukrainians who have fled their home country to Poland.

In all, about 10 million Ukrainians have been displaced. The U.S. announced last week that it will welcome 100,000 Ukrainian refugees.

Here’s what you can do: 

There are so many angles you can explore.

First, you could do a service to your readers by explaining how Russia devolved into an oligarchy over the last few decades. You could create a great infographic that explains the differences between autocracy and democracy. How do your social studies faculty explain it? Conversely how healthy is the U.S. republic? Is it fully a democracy, or do we still have a ways to go?

Second, the history of the U.S. is also the history of captive people and refugees, going back to the movement of Europeans — and their subsequent enslavement of native populations and of African captives — into the Western Hemisphere. What refugee populations have contributed to your school’s and your community’s population? There are many:

  • Vietnamese people fleeing their country during the wars of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
  • Irish people escaping famine and pestilence in the 19th century.
  • Jews leaving Europe during the 1930s and 1940s to escape the Holocaust.
  • And so many, many more.

Third, how about that speech? Was it really as good and as powerful as some pundits claim? What made it so good? It lasted 27 minutes. What does your speech teacher or your English have to say about it?

Finally, there’s also the angle about American sacrifice in order to help stop fascism and autocracy in Europe. We did it once, but are we willing to put up with some shortages if things come to that?

The world has had a tough two years dealing with COVID, and in that struggle Americans went crazy over having to wear a mask. Recently, with fluctuations in the price of gas, many in the U.S. had to cut back on other things in order to pay for the price rise. Are we really a country that can do without for a short time in order to help the world overcome a distinct evil?

Americans like KBJ

Early polls indicate that Supreme Court nominee Brown Jackson is popular in the U.S.

Early polling indicates that a majority of Americans support the nomination and the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, who went before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. (See video below for highlights of that testimony.)

The Senate will vote on Jackson’s nomination in the near future. A simple majority is needed in order to make Jackson the first Black woman on the country’s highest court.

Here’s what you can do: 

Many commentators noted the importance of Brown Jackson’s nomination and what it means for Black girls and women in the U.S. How do students in your school feel about their futures? Do they sense they have the mobility represented by such important figures as Vice President Kamala Harris, Judge Brown Jackson, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and other prominent American leaders?

The Oscars go to …

‘CODA,’ mostly, in a ground-breaking evening for the deaf community

Wow. Can you believe what happened last night at the Academy Awards? Whew. That slap was was really something, eh?

Aside from a squabble between Will Smith and Chris Rock over a joke Rock told about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett, the most impactful news of the night came from “CODA” winning best picture and actor Troy Kotsur winning best supporting actor Oscars.

“CODA” stands for “Child of Deaf Adults,” and the film is about a hearing 17-year-old girl (Ruby, played by Emilia Jones) who’s the only hearing member of her family. The story focuses on the girl’s outcast status at school and her ambition to become a professional singer, as well as her family’s struggle to make ends meet in their Massachusetts hometown.

Ruby’s parents were played by Kotsur and Marlee Matlin, who won an Oscar for Best Actress in the 1986 drama “Children of a Lesser God.”

Here’s what you can do: 

The Academy Awards are fun, generally, and the internecine feuds just add spice to the drama, but it’s the best movies themselves that give us a window into others’ lives. In this case, the lives of children of deaf parents.

Are there stories in your school of people living, struggling and succeeding with disabilities? Journalists are too often accused of writing about and focusing too closely on bad news. Here’s a chance to share some good news and share success stories, wherever you find them.

And about that slap? It started because of a joke about Pinkett Smith’s hair. Here’s a chance to enlighten your audience about alopecia and the people who have the condition, if they’re willing to share their story, of course. Empathy is an underrated trait.

It’s An Honor

WPM Contest winners!

McCallum wins its fourth Blue and Gold in five years

McCallum High School of Austin, Texas has won the 2021 Blue and Gold Award for Staff Excellence in the 2022 International Writing, Photo and Multimedia Contest. This is the fourth time in five years McCallum has walked away with top honors – MHS previously won the award in 2018, 2019, and 2021.

Schools with the most winning entries receive Blue and Gold Awards for Writing, Visuals and Overall Excellence. We award the top three performing schools in each Award Category. Here are those winning schools (the link above has all the individual winners):

Blue and Gold Award (All categories)

McCallum High School, Austin, Texas

Writing Excellence (Writing categories)

  1. St. John’s School, Houston, Texas
  2. Kingwood Park High School, Kingwood Park, Texas
  3. (Tie) Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas(Tie) McCallum High School, Austin, Texas

Visual Excellence (Photo and Design categories)

  1. McCallum High School, Austin, Texas
  2. Ladue Horton Watkins High School, St. Louis, Missouri
  3. Shawnee Mission East High School, Prairie Village, Kansas

Multimedia Excellence (Multimedia categories)

  1. McCallum High School, Austin, Texas
  2. Maize Career Academy, Maize, Kansas
  3. (Tie) Wichita High School Southeast, Wichita, Kansas(Tie) Prosper High School, Prosper, Texas

NEW! PSJA Journalism Contest

Deadline for entries has been extended to April 8; awards ceremony May 16

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 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 16 to announce the winners. Additionally, the top placing school will win free memberships into Quill and Scroll.

A new partnership!

MediaNow and Quill and Scroll work together to help student journalists and advisers

Quill and Scroll is proud to partner with Media Now to help students and advisers with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st Century newsroom through summer camp and year-round online resources.

It’s a partnership we are officially announcing next week, but you all reading this are the first to get the breaking news because both organizations were just too excited to hold it in until then.

We are excited for Media Now for many reasons. Like us, they have high standards and are well respected in the journalism community. They have similar guiding principles to our own Eight Guiding Principles. And we both want to recognize and further the cause of scholastic journalism. In addition, if you’ve ever been part of a Media Now event, you know they deliver not only on quality of instruction, but in bringing the energy and making their events fun.

While we will have more to talk about next week in our official release, we wanted Scroll readers to be the first to know about this new partnership. For now, feel free to check out what they have available for on-demand training right now and what they’ve got for in-person training this summer.

Critique forms available

News Media Evaluation is the best way to get objective feedback about your news operation

The Quill and Scroll News Media Evaluation provides news media staffs a one-of-a-kind assessment of your publication(s) with constructive comments and suggestions for improvement from qualified evaluators. Judges will provide a thorough analysis and rating to schools, and the evaluation exercise and feedback are instructive and developmental.

High schools and junior high/middle schools may enter their multimedia news operations, newspapers, news magazines and/or online news sites until June 15, 2022. Entries and ratings are returned in early September 2022. This service is open to non-member schools as well as member schools.

Here’s the web page with all the information about entering your publication.

Scholarships for Advisers and Students

Adviser application deadline is April 15; student deadline is May 15

Quill and Scroll will award scholarships again this year to journalism advisers and their students who want to study and/or practice journalism in college.

The $500 Lester G. Benz Scholarship goes to an adviser who undertakes a professional development activity over the summer or in the 2022-23 academic year.

The award can be used to attend a National High School Journalism Conference, to pay for tuition for a university course in a relevant subject area, or for a summer workshop, such as MediaNow, the JEA Summer Advisers Institute or a local summer workshop in your state, to name a few.

Applications are now being accepted. Deadline is April 15, 2022.

The award is named after former Quill and Scroll Executive Director Lester G. Benz.

Last year’s winner was Shari Chumley from Tupelo High School in Tupelo, Mississippi.

Student scholarship applications are now open, and they’re for students who are Quill and Scroll members or for students who have won awards in any number of Quill and Scroll contests. Apply for the grants — which can pay up to $1,500 for your first year in college — before May 15.

What’s Viral?

Not today, Ye

Kanye West barred from performing at 2022 Grammys

In the midst of his chaotic and concerning online behavior, Ye, aka Kanye West, will not be allowed to perform at the Grammy Awards ceremony this year, though he can attend.

Though the rapper has been nominated for five Grammys, including album of the year, he will not be taking the stage for a live performance.

In response, some hip-hop artists are staging an “anti-Grammy revolution.”

The decision comes days after Ye verbally harassed Daily Show host Trevor Noah, who is hosting this year’s Grammys. It also takes place after months the battling and abuse of ex-wife, Kim Kardashian online.

Here’s what you can do: 

We hear a lot about “cancel culture” these days, but when someone deserves rebuke for their actions, then they should pay a price for their deplorability.

This is a great chance to open a discussion in your news outlet about what we’re willing to put up with despite a celebrity’s or a politician’s sketchy behavior. Do the students in your school follow an artist with skeletons in their closet? Should someone’s moral failings cost them money and possibly their careers? Are there gradations of bad behavior? If so, when is that line crossed?

Not using his head

Popular concussions doctor under fire

Paul McCrory, one of the world’s most renowned doctor’s shaping concussion protocols for over 20 years, is facing multiple allegations of plagiarizing his research.

McCrory was in change of forming the team and writing the consensus for its newest research on concussions that some call “the foundation of all sports-related research.”

The scandal has cast doubt on the doctors abilities and findings and has raised questions about his relationship to many major sports leagues.

In one of several examples, in an article about motor neuron disease, McCrory mirrored, without attribution, an earlier paper about A.L.S., a type of motor neuron disease.

The plagiarism charges are seriously undermining McCrory’s credibility on the long-term effects of repeated head hits and C.T.E., and some say they may force sports organizations to reconsider the guidelines he and the other doctors in the group set forth.

Here’s what you can do: 

Ooh, plagiarism. Bad. Bad, bad, bad. Bad.

How often do students plagiarize information for school projects? Are they willing to admit that? How often do teachers catch students for plagiarism? Is it considered a huge problem at your school? What are the consequences? What are some of the best practices your teachers use to weed out plagiarism?

Be careful the story doesn’t become “Here’s how you can get away with plagiarism” — ethical journalists don’t advocate for breaking laws. And double-check to make sure your news outlet or yearbook has clear penalties for reporters who plagiarize.

Here’s a great resource from the Online News Association on how to avoid plagiarism by making sure you use correct attribution in your stories.

All hail roaches

Pesticide is making cockroaches stronger

A recent study from the Journal of Economic Entomology, shows that German cockroaches — the most problematic of the species — can now survive five different kinds of commonly used pesticides.

This is concerning, not just because cockroaches are gross and creepy, but because serious roach infestations can cause long-term health issues.

Now cockroaches aren’t just developing a resistance because they have super powers or anything, there’s a long history of these creepy crawlies having a history of resistance.

Their evolutionary process has caused cockroaches to develop a genetic mutation to fight off pesticides.

So it looks for now we will have to respect cockroaches, as it seems they will be outliving us.

Here’s what you can do: 


But once you’ve gotten over the creepiness of living (or dead) cockroaches, it’s usually more interesting than you may think to go through all the maintenance procedures at your school to make sure things like cockroach infestations don’t happen. Who does the maintenance at your school? What are some of the daily tasks that students can do to pitch in at school and at home to keep things clean?

Just A Thought

Re-take the Pledge!

Join Q&S at the NHSJC opening ceremonies and re-take the Q&S pledge

Are you headed to Los Angeles next week for the first in-person National High School Journalism Conference in more than two years?

We are, and we’re excited to see all your smiling faces at the Westin Bonaventure. But you better act fast if you’re going, because registration ends today, March 28.

If you have questions about Quill and Scroll, look for Executive Director Jeff Browne in the vendors area, and he’ll help you figure out where you and your school stand with Quill and Scroll if you’re not sure.

If you’re already a member, we have a couple of treats for you. First, at check-in, make sure you get your blue and gold Quill and Scroll convention ribbon to adorn your name tag. Second, make sure you attend the opening ceremonies so you can stand and show your commitment to our ideals by reciting the membership pledge, led by Jeff Browne.

We’ll post the words for you on a screen, but here they are, just in case you want to practice. This is a version adopted by the King School in Connecticut:

I do pledge myself

To do all in my power

To work for the advancement of my community,

To be authentic,

To live up to the ideals of true journalism,

And to be impartial in my interpretation of truth.

See you in California!