Jan. 15, 2024

Our past three editions

Jan. 8, 2024 Overlooked stories • Snoop Dogg • Januhairy

Dec. 11, 2023 Shoe germs • Taylor Swift • Peach Fuzz

Dec. 4, 2023 Melatonin use • Teacher contracts • Journalistic use of AI



Meta unveils new teen safety features

A new angle on social media’s effects on youth

Instagram and Facebook plan to reduce the amount of “sensitive content” shown to teens. Before this change, teens could opt to have Instagram’s algorithm recommend less potentially harmful content, but now Meta will hide sensitive content even if posted by accounts teens follow. 

This change comes weeks before Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the company’s “failure to protect children online.”

What you can do —

In the context of Zuckerberg’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee and this change, a story on social media’s effects on teens is fitting. 

One option would be to talk to students about what they see online and how it affects them. This highlights the effects a change like this could have on teens. Interviewing a psychologist about the mental health effects social media can have would also provide important context.


Study finds nearly a quarter million nanoplastics in bottled water

Look into the effects and prevalence of plastic fragments

Scientists have long thought there were lots of microscopic plastic pieces in bottled water, but until a recent study from researchers at Columbia and Rutgers, there wasn’t a more precise answer. 

By looking at five samples from each of three common bottled water brands, researchers found that particle levels of nanoplastics averaged at around 240,000 per liter. Previous studies have found slightly bigger microplastics in bottled water. 

What you can do —

The health effects of small plastics on humans are relatively unknown, but in 2019 the World Health Organization described an urgent need to further research the potential implications. Student journalists can exercise their science reporting skills and look into the research that exists. An infographic on what common products are found to have micro and nanoplastics would contextualize this study. 

This study offers a starting point to assess the health effects nanoplastics could have on humans. Bottled water is often touted as the safer drinking option, but is that really the case?

What’s viral

‘Mean Girls’ returns to the big screen

Could review, examine social norms in schools

Almost 20 years after the release of the original “Mean Girls” movie, the story is back in theaters. The movie musical, starring Reneé Rapp, Jenna Fischer and Tina Fey, released Jan. 12. Some aspects of the story from the 2004 version — including some name calling and story lines about race, sexuality and pedophilia — have been phased out in the new version to account for changing times. 

What you can do —

The iconic storyline in the “Mean Girls” empire leans on the common experience of being in high school, something student journalists are currently experiencing. Hidden behind sharp barbs and retorts, the film provides an opportunity to talk more about the social structure at high schools. Talking to a psychologist about social norms in schools and how they have evolved over the last two decades could reveal interesting insights. How might this structure affect students’ outcomes? 

Because this is the third widely-accepted version of “Mean Girls” (there was a 2011 TV film that was not well received), comparing the three versions could lead to an interesting review. Did adding music to this third version improve it, or is it just a combination of the original and the stage musical?


It’s always membership season

Beat the rush — nominate members today

Winter has begun, so don’t be left out in the cold. Nominate students for membership order pins, cords and other Quill and Scroll materials and memorabilia.

We haven’t changed the ordering process from last year. For those wanting to ditch the paper version, you just need to select the form based on how you would like to pay. We have one version for credit card and another version for check or purchase order. (We’ve added buttons for ease of finding these.) As usual, credit card payments are charged $4.49 per order for processing. 

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 4, March 11 and April 1.

> Start the process here.

Meet, collaborate and discuss with peers

Quill and Scroll’s Student Journalism Collaboration Program, which is a discussion forum for students, will continue hosting discussion forums this school year. 

The 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.

Our next meeting will take Jan. 22 from 7-8 p.m. Central, and our topic of discussion will be fundraising

Please ask interested students to fill out this form by Jan. 18. Once students fill out the form, they will automatically receive a notification for all subsequent meetings. Participants who signed up will also receive a reminder the week before the event and the Zoom link the Friday prior to the event. 

We look forward to seeing you!

Sorry advisers, this is a student-only offering.

Writing, Photo, Multimedia contest open

Due date is Feb. 2 — there’s less than one month to enter.

The entry form is live and we are accepting submissions. Be aware, we have added a few categories and changed a few items and descriptions. The cost is $7 for all entry types and you may submit live links. 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. Remember, we don’t accept a Google document for an entry. We only accept published work. 

Please make a note — all entries and payments will be due Feb. 2.

Make sure to include either your credit card payments or check or purchase order when you enter. 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.

PSJA Journalism Contest open

Q&S and Private School Journalism Association set up portfolio contest

The PSJA Journalism Contest, co-sponsored by Quill and Scroll, seeks to honor the best journalism produced by private and independent school students. It is a “portfolio” contest, one that seeks not to reward single stories, but a pattern of excellence over the course of a year.

Other than Editorial Leadership, work produced for the contest should have been published in a news publication — in print or online — or a yearbook between March 30, 2023 and Feb. 29, 2024. Deadline for entries will be Friday, March 1, 2024. An awards ceremony will occur after judging is finalized. 

For PSJA members, the cost for your school is $20 per entry. Non-members pay $25 per entry. To become a member of PSJA, email PSJA Director David Cutler ([email protected]) and sign up for the PSJA newsletter.

Make sure to include either your credit card payments or check or purchase order when you enter. The link provided on the site will take you directly to the credit card or check/purchase order page for the order. The PSJA category payment option is at the bottom of the page.

If you are interested in entering the contest, please see our website.

Free Spirit Conference Applications available until March 1

2024 Free Spirit Conference: In June 2024, the Freedom Forum will host its annual Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference June 22-27 for high school juniors. Students selected for the program receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the nation’s capital where they hear from journalists, as well as a $1,000 scholarship to the college of their choice. Applications are due March 1. 

Plan ahead

We will be out of the office during the weeks of March 4, March 11 and April 1. We will not be able to send or process orders during these weeks — or overnight orders. 

Also, we will not publish the Weekly Scroll during the weeks of March 11, 17 and April 8. Please make sure to plan accordingly. 

Spring convention registration opens Jan. 17

Join us in Kansas City for the JEA/NSPA National High School Journalism Convention. This year’s convention will be at the Crown Center. Registration opens Jan. 17 and the hotel link is available to all registrants Jan. 24. Join us for “At the Heart of the Story” at the JEA/NSPA spring convention April 4-6.

Just a thought

News Literacy Week is next week and there’s a lot there for teachers.

If I were still in either an English or journalism classroom, I would have students take the “Should you share it?” quiz. (One warning on the quiz — students will need to select the quiz they take based on their political leanings.)

The quiz emphasizes the need to know and vet the source of the information, and might just help students better navigate and consume social media. 

An extension might be to ask the students to open their favorite social media site and see what information is presented and who it is from. They could then add whether they think the information is credible.

And yes, the site has much more — including additional classroom resources and “News Literacy in the age of AI,” and “Is that a fact” podcasts.

— Lori Keekley