April 29, 2024

Our past three editions

April 22, 2024 Book bans • Jane Goodall • Taylor Swift

April 1, 2024 Birth control • Colorado River • Beyoncé

March 25, 2024 SAT test • TikTok • Solar eclipse


AI-generated news is out there, what can you do about it?

Run a media literacy campaign, discuss newsroom policy

Generative AI has snuck its way into virtually every corner of life in recent years, and journalism is no exception. In a recent essay for the Wall Street Journal, Jack Brewster, an editor for a company that tracks online misinformation, detailed just how easy it was for him to create an AI news site. 

It took Brewester just two days and $105 to launch an AI-generated local news site that can publish news with a partisan frame of his choice. The site was built by a developer Brewster hired through Fiverr.com and its content is written by ChatGPT based on other news outlets.  

The website could be programmed to churn out as many articles as Brewester wanted, with any instructions to ChatGPT. In his essay, Brewster walks through a number of example articles, with plenty of examples of AI missing the mark. 

What you can do —

Generative AI could be the basis for a media literacy campaign at your school. Maybe it’s a series of articles on your site or class visits, but discussing how to identify AI-generated content and why it is problematic can help people navigate the media landscape. There are plenty of tools out there that identify AI-generated content, so having students explore those could prompt interesting conversations. 

At a newsroom level it is also worth creating an AI policy. Are reporters allowed to brainstorm on ChatGPT? What happens if editors discover an article was AI generated? Setting a precedent now will only help future editors. 


Nearly 40% of US residents are breathing unhealthy air pollution

Dig into data, American Lung Association ratings

About 131 million people in the United States are living with levels of air pollution that can significant;y affect their health, according to the American Lung Association’s “State of the Air” report. This number is up from about 119 million in last year’s report. 

A number of factors are contributing to the rise in unhealthy air pollution, including extreme heat, drought and wildfires, CNN reported.

Six of the 10 cities with the highest year-round levels of particle pollution were in California, with Oregon, Arizona and Alaska rounding out the list. Particle pollution is a mix of solid and liquid droplets that is so small it can travel past our body’s usual defenses, CNN reported. 

Ozone smog, another monitored pollutant, is so bad in many counties that more than 100 million people live in counties that received an F grade for ozone smog. Ozone exposure can exacerbate asthma symptoms. 

What you can do —

The American Lung Association’s report includes a number of interactive elements that allow users to dig into their area’s air quality. This means this story can be localized with data with relative ease. 

This is an opportunity to investigate pollution in your city — are there power plants, refineries or other sources that are contributing to air quality issues? What can your city do to counteract any negative air quality it faces?

It would also be good to talk to a medical professional about the potential effects of bad air quality, especially if your area is severely affected.

What’s viral

Large number of cicadas set to buzz through 17 states

Examine impact on local environment

Cicada season is here. And, for many states, it’s bigger than it usually is. More than a dozen states across the Midwest and Southeast parts of the country will see trillions of cicadas emerge from underground in the next few weeks, USA Today reported. This year two broods, XIX and XIII, will emerge together. The last time these two broods emerged at the same time was 221 years ago. 

Broods XIX and XIII are both periodical cicadas, meaning they emerge every 13 or 17 years across North America. There are also annual cicadas that emerge every year. Periodical cicadas emerge in mid-to-late May, USA Today reported, and start singing about two weeks after they emerge.

What you can do —

If your state will see a higher than normal number of cicadas this year, there are a number of directions coverage could go. Gathering people’s reactions to the scaly insects would be interesting. There is a great science story in cicadas too, as their 13 and 17 year life cycles are still stumping scientists. Show what will or will not happen in your area. Talk to local conservationists about the potential impacts on local vegetation.


It’s always membership season

Don’t be left out this year, nominate members year round — including freshmen

It’s our busiest time of the year. Make sure to nominate students for membership order pins, cords and other Quill and Scroll materials and memorabilia now. 

Don’t forget you may now recommend freshmen for membership. We made this bylaw change in February after requests from several advisers.

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. 

Additionally our mail service is sporadic at best. It can take up to three weeks to process and send an order during this time. 

> Start the process here.

Workshop set for June 24-27, in Dallas

The Gloria Shields NSPA Media Workshop returns to the Dallas/Addison Marriott Quorum by the Galleria June 24-27, 2024, with bonus classes on June 23. Workshop registration is $140 per student or adviser.  The extra cost for the Sunday bonus class is $20 per person.

In 2023, 680 students from 85 schools took advantage of the instruction from our exceptional faculty. Watch the workshop website for additional 2024 workshop details as they become available.

> Watch the preview video for 2024.

Deadline approaches for 2024 Vanessa Shelton Chapter of the Year

Has your chapter been active in Quill and Scroll this year? If so, it’s time to apply for the Chapter of the Year. The deadline to apply has been extended to May 3.

Chapters must have initiated members in each of the past three years.

Applications are free and winners will receive a plaque, $250 for the classroom, four free memberships and honor cords and one member spot on our Student Advisory Board.

During the past 98 years, Quill and Scroll has granted charters to more than 11,400 schools around the world. When a school’s journalism program receives its charter, students in the school begin a Quill and Scroll chapter there. Quill and Scroll does not dictate how active a chapter should be, but the Chapter Manual does provide some guidance on the value of an “active chapter,” the activities it may engage in, and its general goals:

“The chapter can accomplish these goals: 

(1) inspire members of the staff to greater efforts; 

(2) attract students of higher ability to publications/media work by offering them journalistic recognition and honors; 

(3) provide incentive for the development of the journalism department and the improvement of school publications/media; and 

(4) secure greater recognition of journalism work by students, school officials and the community.”

The deadline is April 19 and the winner will be announced mid-May. The application form is on our website

YEC to open for entries Wednesday

Looking for something to do after the yearbook deadline and before distribution? Enter the YEC!

The 2024 Yearbook Excellence Contest will open for entries on Wednesday. The cost for each entry in all 39 categories is $8, and schools will be divided by size — Class A for 1,000 or more students, and Class B for 999 or fewer students,

Entry deadline is Oct. 2, and here is a link to complete descriptions of those 39 categories.

Judges will award first, second and third places in each category for each class, and they’ll award honorable mentions so that between 10 and 15 percent of all entries are recognized in every category. All students named as award recipients will be eligible to apply for Quill and Scroll student scholarships in May of their senior year.

Quill and Scroll administrators will then tally points (5 for first place, 4 for second, 3 for third and 1 for HM) to determine a Blue and Gold Award winner for each class. Last year’s winners were Wando High School in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina (Class A) and Christ Presbyterian Academy of Nashville, Tennessee (Class B).

Here’s a complete list of last year’s winners.

Final scrolls

We will publish our final Weekly Scroll May 6. We will resume publishing next fall in early to mid September.

Just a thought

Since we are almost to the end of the year, I wanted to include a few small ordering reminders:

Please make sure to allow at least three weeks from the time we receive your complete order, which includes either purchase order or payment. We are in Minnesota, so please make sure all mail correspondence is sent to our Minneapolis address. Our mail service is slow at best, so please plan accordingly. 

Remember, we process orders quicker that are submitted using our online ordering system. 

Right now, we are sending complete orders within three days of receiving them. We use UPS shipping for the vast majority of our orders. Some smaller ones are sent using the US postal service. If you want notifications for UPS, make sure to sign up for this. We include email addresses on shipments when they are provided at the time the order is placed. 

If you want member cords, you have to have members. We do check and monitor this.

Please let me know if you have any questions. I’m happy to help!

— Lori Keekley