Jan. 12, 2023
THE LEDE | by Alex Steil
New, highly contagious COVID-19 variant
Highlights questions about medical sway
The most transmissible COVID-19 variant was detected over our break, which is resulting in a change in health recommendations nearing the end of the third year of the pandemic. There is no evidence the new XBB.1.5. variant evades vaccinations more effectively than past iterations of the virus. Some localities, like New York City, started recommending their residents wear masks indoors.
What you can do —
Unlike past winter waves, this increase in cases has gone largely unnoticed and underreported. It raises an interesting question about the staying power of health officials, both local and national civil servants: do they still have sway in our community? At the outset of vaccination efforts, PSA’s encouraged individuals to discuss vaccinations with their personal doctors. The CDC announced they would again do another round of free-tests for those who order.
A data piece tracking the various testing regimes over the three different years of the pandemic could help students put into perspective this potential wave.
Rise in minimum wage
23 states now have $15 wage floor
The New Year rang in an increase in the minimum wage to $15 in a handful of states, bringing the number nationwide to 23. More than 30 cities have raised their wage to deal with record-high inflation. However, more than 20 states still haven’t increased their wage after the pandemic or inflation, leaving the floor at the federal $7.25. The dynamics of state wages are particularly and siloed from each other: in Virginia, a Delegate announced a specific child minimum wage; in New York, Gov. Kathy Hochul affirmed in a State of the State address to increase their states wage annually.
What you can do —
If your state is one that increased the minimum wage, a reactionary piece would be a natural topic. A good question to ask is “What does this mean for those involved?” What will be the impact? For those states without an increase in minimum wage, staffers could reach out to state legislators or city leaders to see if they are planning action in this area. Are students petitioning legislators for an increase? A staff member could profile one of these students.
Football player’s near-fatal injury highlights worries of sport
Suffered cardiac arrest a week and a half ago
Buffalo Bill’s player Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest in the middle of a Jan. 2 Monday night football game against the Bengals. After a week of outpouring and sentiments from fans –– including a moment of respect during the game –– Hamlin tweeted his thanks after being moved from his Cincinnati to his hometown. Hamlin had ended up in the ICU after being revived on the field and was discharged from the hospital Wednesday afternoon.
What you can do —
Such a traumatic and severe injury in football has always led to criticism of the sport, but few have had such long staying power. A convincing staff-editorial could be produced by your team to discuss the safety and necessity of the roughness in high school football and other contact sports (wrestling, hockey, etc.) specifically, particularly in the light of Hamlin’s injury. Staffs could also create an infographic detailing the rates of sports injuries in their school, or even nationally. Also, does your school and athletic trainers/staff have access to defibrillators? What is the law surrounding access to these? Is the school compliant?
War is still ongoing, with renewed foreign pleas
The war in Ukraine is still ongoing, but during our publishing break there were major developments: President Volodymyr Zelensky made a high-profile (but initially secretive) trip to Washington to speak with President Biden and an impassioned plea to the Congress asking for specific military equipment; Russia attacked Ukraine during the Orthodox Christmas; and serious talks of a cease-fire have been rumbling after progress during the holiday season.
What you can do —
Even though the outlook of the war has not changed drastically, the situation on the ground has worsened in Ukraine. In the official capacities as Chapters, providing some form of humanitarian relief –– either by organizing food drives or other monetary donations –– would raise the ethical bar for young journalists by encouraging them to remember that journalism is a human profession.
Staffs could also examine what students and their peers are aware of: is news fatigue taking its toll? This particular look would be best accompanied by a quiz on international current events (Ukraine, Brazil’s insurrection, etc), further enabling ambitious writers to localize international issues that have a potential to affect your community.
Also, will the new Congress be receptive to funding the war against Russia? Staffs could examine whether it is our role to fund Ukraine’s defense?
2023 slated to have actually good movies
Big names return to the screen
The days of household names like Napoleon Dynamite and Clark Griswold are gone. After years of the same horror/superhero/feel-good movies dominating cinema, 2023 is expected to have a wider variety of flims that have potential. Critics (including Google Trends) have noted there have been fewer popular and good films in recent years. Of course, anomalies like “Top Gun: Maverick” cut through the mix, but by and large most movies do not have such staying power.
What you can do —
Budding film critics could gather a list of the upcoming films for the year and compile, which are expected to be hits. Staffers could keep a running list of movie release dates to have a rolling review section. Additionally, these writers could produce content about ways that Hollywood could pivot so there are not solely special years that have film promise, but instead so the film industry can have continued success.
IT’S AN HONOR
New student opportunity from Quill and Scroll’s Student Advisory Board
Meet, collaborate and discuss with peers
Quill and Scroll’s Student Journalism Collaboration Program aims to connect student journalists from across the nation. Through virtual meetings, participants will discuss, collaborate and troubleshoot with their peers about scholastic journalism issues pertaining to their student media.
Fill out the interest form here by Jan. 27. We will send the meeting link prior to the first meeting. (We will establish this after we have the list of how many are interested. We may offer more than one option depending on interest level.)
It’s always membership season
Don’t forget you can nominate members year round
Starting a new semester? What better way to welcome a new semester than to initiate Quill and Scroll members! By submitting members now, students can be active members in their chapters for the remainder of the year and you can also avoid the spring rush. Remember, we need to have either payment or the Purchase Order in order to send your order. Remember, it can take up to three weeks to process and send an order during the peak spring season, which traditionally starts next month. Also, plan ahead. We are unable to overnight orders during the weeks of March 5, March 12 and April 17.
Writing, Photo, Multimedia contest opens
Due date is Feb. 6 — you have less than one month to enter.
The entry form is live and we are accepting submissions. Be aware, we have changed a few items and descriptions. The cost is $7 for all entry types and you may submit live links. (No more creating and downloading the PDF if it is accessible on a website.) If you would rather make a PDF of the submission, you may still do this as well. Please make sure to allow anyone with the link to view.
We have added several categories and updated the description of others. The intent of Categories 38-40 is to include coverage in a variety of forms that center on one event or topic in which multiple coverage components work together to deliver robust content. For example, if a staff were to cover a girls’ swim team, they might publish a story, podcast and photo gallery on their website. This would qualify for Category 39.
Please make sure to include payment check/purchase order or credit card when you enter your awards. The link provided on the site will take you directly to the credit card or check/purchase order page for the order. The WPM category payment option is at the bottom of the page.
Please reach out if you have any questions.
We will be out of the office during the weeks of March 5, March 12 and April 17. Because of this, we will not send orders or publish a Scroll during these three traditionally busy weeks. Please make sure to plan accordingly. Also, as a gentle reminder, our address changed July 2022. Many are still sending checks and orders to Iowa, which can result in a delay in sending orders. Please make sure to inform your business offices of our move to Minnesota. (Quill and Scroll, 2829 University Ave. Se, Suite 720, Minneapolis, MN 55414.) Now is a great time to select new members.
Spring convention registration opens Feb. 14
Join us in San Francisco for the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention. This year’s convention will be at the Hilton Union Square. Registration opens Feb. 7 and the hotel link is available to all registrants Feb. 14. Leave Your Heart, Find Your Voice at the JEA/NSPA spring convention April 20-22.
Chapter activity/discussion point idea
While watching the World Cup, I kept seeing ads for a new phone that can get rid of visual distractions.
With students often using their phone to take photos for student media, this might be a great time to discuss this feature from an ethical standpoint.
It might be a great reason to revisit photo manipulation and the ethics surrounding this topic as a whole. The age-old question of “If images can so easily be manipulated, how do we know the image is real?”
Additionally, you might want to include a discussion concerning the role AI plays in this. Also, on the JEA listserv, a great discussion happened concerning AI and its use in student media.
Thanks to Mark Webber who posted: “Can AI win a photography competition? Take the Turing Test. This brought about quite a discussion in my own house. I bombed the test — and I don’t like bombing tests.) This test is a great way to introduce the concept.
One great question to ask: What role does this take in student media and media in general? How do we show our readers the veracity in what we publish? Does this take the form of a statement or other reader service?
Of course, a coverage point could also be not only the use of AI, which is easily accessible in a quick search, in academic work.
Some resources on photo manipulation:
National Press Photographers Association Code of Ethics
Quill and Scroll’s Principal’s Guide to Scholastic Journalism
JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights Committee Quick Tip on Photo Editing (See the resources here too!)
Just a thought
I hope you have returned rested and well.
With the New Year comes new reminders and a look ahead.
I’m excited to announce the release of a Quill and Scroll Student Advisory Board outreach project. After many iterations and discussion, the students decided on a simple approach that offers students a meeting space for students to connect called the Student Journalism Collaboration Program. It aims to connect student journalists from across the nation. Through virtual meetings participants will discuss, collaborate and troubleshoot with their peers about scholastic journalism issues pertaining to their student media.
Fill out the interest form here by Jan. 27. After gaging the responses, we will set a time and date to meet then send the link to participants. (We may offer more than one option depending on interest level.) We will send a link to those who express interest. As always, please contact me if you have any questions.
Thanks, and happy New Year!
— Lori Keekley