Nov. 17, 2022
THE LEDE | by Alex Steil
Midterm election yields surprising results
Yet scant coverage of school boards
The United States held their biennial midterm elections last week, and the partisan results were surprising: the Democrats did not categorically lose the amount of seats as historically predicted. They are poised to lose the House of Representatives, but they did retain control of the Senate. The Democrats retain 50 seats in the Senate with one race pending – the Georgia runoff set for December 6.
What you can do —
With all that said, students who read the news know the national political landscape. But there is not a lot of coverage about the governing bodies that most impact the daily lives of students — school boards. These races tended to be more partisan than most have seen in prior cycles, but the results are still unclear because the races are not widely reported. Interviewing the new office holders and examining their policies will be beneficial to the students who care about what’s going on around them. For go-getter publications, they could also examine the results for state legislators that serve on their Education Committees. For example, will “Parental Control” legislation become law or did those legislators lose their races? Examining the election results with student-tinted glasses is a great exercise in reporting and interacting with public officials.
Climate activist attempts to deface painting in Vienna
Fourth notable public stunt this year
A climate activist threw black paint at an oil painting at the Leopold Museum in Vienna, Austria. His partner glued his hand to the glad covering protecting the canvas, called “Death and Life.” The activist organization the two belonged to tweeted they were protesting oil and gas drilling, which is a “death sentence to society.” These types of incidents are becoming more common, with a protester smearing cake on the Mona Lisa in May, as well as food smeared on paintings by Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh.
What you can do–
Unless your chapter has a prized work of art, this direct story will not affect you. But, it does exemplify just how intense activism has become and the extremes some are taking to highlight their cause.
Chapters could discuss whether to cover this issue at all. By covering issues such as this, does it then inspire more to act? Where is that line? You could use the SPJ Code of Ethics in this discussion.
Another way to localize would be to show the causes students work for. Examples of coverage could follow students and center on how they have become activists in your community, or chart the organizations in your community that are making noise and change. For example, you could profile students who work on topics such as racial equality, climate change and LGBTQ rights.
Turn it down
And yes, we could have predicted this
A new study from the journal BMJ Global Health has noted adolescents and young adults are at risk for hearing loss, tinnitus or both because they listen too loud and too long to music, movies, phones and shows.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggestions limit safe noise levels to around 85 decibels over 40 hours a week. If students are listening to 2 1/2 hours a day, it’s about 92 decibels according to the study.
What you can do
Poll students concerning volume levels and duration. Then, contact a local otologist about the poll results. Are many students in danger of hearing loss? Can steps be taken to reverse any damage occurring?
Student media outlets could also have someone keep a listening log that includes duration, volume and type (phone, earbuds, television, etc.). Look at the results and then ask an otologist to examine whether the person might be at risk for hearing loss and other issues.
Recently, hearing aids recently became available this fall for over-the-counter purchase. How has this impacted students with hearing loss? Has it helped with the cost and availability? Additionally, the video clip enclosed shows what Beethoven sounds like with and without hearing loss. For a multimedia component, students could ask a local oncologist for something similar as well.
What’s viral: End of fall — review time!
Annual time of year to reflect and see what your peers were interested in
With Thanksgiving around the corner and the first snowfall of the year (at least in certain parts of the country), looking at the season’s biggest trend is always an inviting experience with staff members. Are pumpkin spice lattes good? Or, you could rank the top pop culture trends over the season, like Netflix’s new shows “Dahmer” and new season of “The Crown” to see what students are interested in. Engaging with students who may not otherwise engage with your student media may be intrigued when they see a poll (including a social media poll) of their peer’s favorite fall foods or shows.
IT’S AN HONOR
It’s always membership season
Don’t forget you can nominate members year round
You may be one fourth of the way through the school year. It’s a great time to submit members for Quill and Scroll! By submitting members now, students can be active members in their chapters for the remainder of the year. By having students join now, you can also avoid the spring rush!
We will take a little break next week
I know you wait every Thursday to hear the Scroll has arrived, but since many schools will not be in session Thursday when we normally publish, we will take next week off. The office will be open Monday and Tuesday, however, so don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or even order memberships or other items.
For those looking ahead, we will also not publish the Scroll Dec. 22 and Dec. 29. We resume publishing the week of Jan. 5.
Don’t forget our address changed in July
Just as a reminder, Quill and Scroll moved from Iowa to Minnesota last July. The University of Iowa is great about forwarding mail to us, but it can take a few extra weeks for checks sent to Iowa to make it to Minnesota. (Remember, we do wait on either the check or purchase order to process your orders.) Please remind your business office of this change as well. Remember, we are now residing with the NSPA folks at:
2829 University Ave. SE, Suite 720
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55414
And don’t worry if the check is already in the mail. We will get it eventually.
Just a thought
During my first month of teaching at Portage High School, Nancy Hastings schooled me on what organizations I was to join. I remember it not really sounding like a choice. And, thankfully, I realized if Nancy told me to do something, I should listen to her. I dutifully signed up to be a member in the state and national organizations, and I’m so glad I did.
I kept thinking of this moment Nancy reached out while attending the fall convention in St. Louis. Had I not listened to her, I may have eventually found my way to these organizations, but I don’t know for sure. It was this one connection that resulted in driving a school van to St. Louis with nine students singing to Tubthumping for what felt like the entire drive. This tradition continued after I started teaching at St. Louis Park (MN), and I’ve taken students on and off for the past 20+ years.
These experiences at conventions and other outreach opportunities have been so formative for my (now former) students and for me during these years. It’s been the best professional development I had, and my students learned so much from all of you. The students would return from conventions energized and excited and tell me all about the great ideas they had learned.
As I sat at the Saturday luncheon, I kept thinking of — and seeing — of all those who have made such a positive impact on me. I thought, what if I hadn’t listened to Nancy? My students and I would have missed out on so many resources and knowledge — and community with other journalism students.
The camaraderie of scholastic journalism is like no other. It’s inspiring to see students from across the country sharing ideas and even keeping in touch after a convention. For advisers, having someone who understands why you are excited (or disgruntled) about the Pantone color of the year or to seek advice about the best way to teach students that deadlines actually do matter.
Thank you, Nancy for giving that 22-year-old Lori a not-so-gentle nudge. It has meant all the difference to me and so many others who also received a well timed prompting.
Now is the time to reach out. Maybe you can be someone’s Nancy Hastings. Reach out and encourage someone else, and invite them along. You may never know the impact of your action, but that one connection may impact other advisers and their students for years to come.
— Lori Keekley