The Weekly Scroll

September 9, 2019

News, tips and advice from Quill and Scroll

The Lede

Bahamas suffers brunt of Hurricane Dorian

Thirty people in the Bahamas have died from Hurricane Dorian as it ravaged the islands in its Category 5 state, which has since been reduced to a Category 1 storm as it moves on to the Carolinas. The islands are devastated with the loss and destruction the hurricane left in its wake, leaving hundreds up to thousands of residents missing, according to CNN’s coverage. Authorities warn the death toll will rise in the coming days and weeks as they gather more information and resources to recover what’s left of the islands.

Imagery by NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory

However, tales of survival have arisen amid the tragic stories and statistics in the wake of Dorian. One of such stories being a blind father who paddled to safety with his disabled son on his shoulders, according to The New York Times. Roof blown off the roof of his house and water up to his chin, Brent Lowe felt his way to the closest standing home with his 24-year-old son on his shoulders. It’s a miraculous story of human determination and survival—a nice one to hear after that onslaught of reported deaths and missing persons that have consumed the Bahamas. Read the full story on survivor testimonials here.

Meredith Corp. stock shares plummet after Time Inc. acquisition

Public Domain Pictures

Meredith Corporation became the number one publisher in the United States when they acquired Time Incorporated titles and assets in January 2018. However, the revenue return they were expecting by this time of year eluded them as they struggled to fit titles such as Sports Illustrated within the corporation that has historically branded itself as a publisher striving to reach female readers between the ages of 20 and 40.

“Sluggish” advertising performance also contributed to the depreciation and amortization of earnings before interest, as the fiscal year will result in a predicted $118 million dollar miss, according to Bloomberg. The stock decline is the worst since 1986 and forces the corporation to spend more in order to improve operations, further highlighting the struggle to remain profitable in a competitive industry that sucks away at the magazine journalism industry.

Graffiti targeting Cincinnati high school’s Redskins mascot reopens debate

Anderson High School and its school mascot, Redskins, came under fire after a male suspect vandalized the home baseball dugout and track. Spray painted were the words “CHANGE the NAME!” and “Redskins?? More like white skins…” The word “racists” was painted in black on the red track.

Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office

Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office

The graffiti brought to light an unresolved debate the community was trying to put behind it when a committee convened in 2018 to discuss whether to eradicate the Redskins name and mascot from the school, according to The Washington Post.

“The graffiti discovered at Anderson High School is deeply disturbing and does not reflect the beliefs of our students nor staff,” Forest Hills School District superintendent Scott Prebles said in a statement provided to WCPO. “We are grateful for the hard work of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, and we are confident that the person responsible will be identified.”

The event sparks a conversation that has been happening around the nation in recent years, with Maine becoming the first state to ban public schools from using Native American mascots this year alongside California’s banning of public schools from using “Redskins” in 2015.

It’s An Honor

“I TELL THE TRUTH” t-shirts available for your staff

Now is the time to order your Quill and Scroll “I TELL THE TRUTH — I’m a journalist” t-shirts. As you know, “Truth” is the first pillar upon which Quill and Scroll was founded in 1926.

We’re taking pre-orders from now through Sept. 15, 2019, and we’ll deliver your shirts by Oct. 15, 2019 or earlier. Every time we get to 100 t-shirts ordered, we’ll print up a new batch and ship them to you.

All profits will go to the Quill and Scroll Scholarship Fund, which benefits Quill and Scroll members who plan to study journalism in college.

Just fill out the form at this link to tell us how many you want in each size. We’re offering a unisex style and a female-fit style. RAYGUN is printing the shirts for us, and you can read about their “USA-made” t-shirts here.

Of course, we’d like every Quill and Scroll member to wear one, but these shirts are good for any journalist.

We will accept only credit card payments, and there’s a per-order charge for that, so order all your t-shirts at one time and save!

Yearbook Excellence Contest entries are being accepted

The 2019 Yearbook Excellence Contest is underway and Quill and Scroll will accept entries through Thursday, Oct. 10. Just go to this page, and you’ll see rules, guidelines and forms for entry. Entries cost $5 for individual entries and $10 for a school’s theme development entry. Don’t wait for the last minute, get this done now to see how your work stacks up against those of your peers from schools across the U.S. and Canada.

News Media Evaluation service crowns 13 Gallup winners

Judges have named 13 publications winners of the prestigious George S. Gallup Award for publication excellence.

In addition, 22 publications earned International First Place awards, and 10 received International Second Place Awards.

You can read the complete list of Gallup and other winners here.

Quill and Scroll on the road

Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash

Quill and Scroll Executive Director Jeff Browne will again be touring nearby states this fall for their various journalism conferences. So far on this year’s itinerary:

  • Sept. 26 in Fort Collins, Colorado for Journalism Day at CSU
  • Oct. 21 in Lincoln, Nebraska for the NHSPA fall convention
  • Oct. 24 in Iowa City, Iowa for the IHSJA fall conference
  • Nov. 21-23 in Washington, D.C. for the National High School Journalism Convention

Let us know when your state is hosting its conference because we’d love to have a presence there. And if you see Jeff, stop by his table to say “hell0.”

What’s Viral?

Student health overlooked in pressure to succeed in college and future

It’s a dangerously simple but also a frightening question: Are you mentally well enough for college?

In an article at The Conversation, a psychologist at the University of South Florida in Tampa relates statistics and anecdotes that should compel college-bound students and their parents to ask themselves that question. Among the stats is a nearly 20 percent increase in the last three years in the number of students seeking mental health treatment at their university. The author argues that maybe the best time to seek help is before stepping foot on a college or university campus.

Pinterest’s gatekeeping supports accurate public health information to public

Pinterest has a history of supporting responsible news gathering and public information, specifically regarding vaccinations. Specifically earlier this year, Pinterest stopped returning results for searches for vaccinations on the premise that the information from anti-vaxxers far outnumbers the information from responsible sources. In other words, misinformation outweighs true information online, so Pinterest took action.

Last week, Pinterest started returning results for vaccination searches, but only those results from credible public sources. Is that a step in the right direction, or is Pinterest playing “god” by choosing which information is credible and which isn’t?

Source hacking targets journalists

Authors Joan Donovan and Brian Friedburg suggest in a new book that media manipulators have become even more sophisticated in their attempts to control news by spreading propaganda through social media.

“If manipulators are able to hide the source of the slogan and create sufficient social media circulation, mainstream media sources may even provide further amplification,” they write.

The lesson for high school journalists: Continue to question the source of any information you receive, and verify its authenticity before using it in a story.

Just a Thought

Paying to support good journalism is a must

A short opinion piece by Q&S journalist Nichole Shaw

Poynter Senior Media Writer Tom Jones recently wrote a report regarding whether or not media and news consumers should be required to pay for the content they’re getting. Jones argues yes, because “you can’t just go into a grocery store and start eating cereal off the shelves without paying for it. Why should journalism be any different?”

Here at Quill and Scroll we agree. We get that its frustrating and sometimes even annoying when you’re trying to access the news and you’ve hit a paywall from a reputable publisher or organization, such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and now even places like The Atlantic as of Friday. Your local news publications are also likely behind a paywall, possibly after a few free stories each month. Consider those free stories a bonus.

However, the digital age is forcing news organizations to move at a faster pace, pushing out journalism onto their respective platforms while juggling the dwindling financial support of advertisements because companies like Google monopolize the advertising industry. With the lack of advertising profit for news companies, how is one supposed to fathom supporting an entire staff of writers, creators and/or producers as well as the equipment required  to keep the general public informed of news as it happens?

Therefore, the only logical solution is to require subscriptions, just as your grandparents and parents needed in order to get “the paper” delivered to their doorstop (they may still do that). After all, journalists deserve to get paid for the work they do to consistently uncover the truth when so many others are trying to hide it.

Should high schools adopt paywalls? Probably not. Any cost-benefit analysis would likely show that the harm done to your reputation and standing among students, staff and the community would be too great. But any funding that you can get from student fees, activity fees, etc., essentially act as a paywall for those who are your audience.

Finally, even if you work for free and your publication is free, there is a financial stake in what you do, including either student fee money or taxpayer money in the form of activities fees. That means you have just as much responsibility as professional journalists in creating important, interesting and valuable information for your readers.

Get to it!