The Weekly Scroll

September 16, 2019

News, tips and advice from Quill and Scroll

The Lede

Flavored e-cigarettes and nicotine pods to go up in smoke

Chandra Oh, Unsplash

The Trump Administration said it plans to ban flavored e-cigarettes and nicotine pods from the market, according to The New York Times. This plan comes as a response to the rising number of e-cigarette consumption by teenagers and resulting mysterious lung illnesses.

The FDA issued a warning letter to JUUL on Sept. 9 to correct its marketing, which they said illegally promotes its nicotine vaping devices and products as safer than cigarettes. Should JUUL not correct its marketing practices, they could face fines or even seizure of their products.

The popularity of e-cigarette product usage has been a concern for health officials, school officials, parents and others since 2017—when JUUL was created and marketed to a younger audience. The concern has become serious enough for high schools like Crowley County High School to forfeit games because of e-cigarette usage.

“Due to team issues regarding widespread vaping and other school infractions, we have made the tough decision to forfeit the volleyball game against Rocky Ford tonight @ 4:30 p.m,” Crowley Country (Colorado) High School said in a post on their Facebook page.

Spies are real and the U.S. extracted one of theirs from Russia

Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash

The government likes to call them “informants,” but we know exactly what they are: spies. The CIA had one in Russia for decades, and they cultivated that asset into the perfect source. In the beginning, he was a mid-level Russian official. By the time he was extracted in 2017, he was an influential, top-level official with access to the highest level of the Kremlin.

CNN first reported the exclusive information above on Sept. 9 when Trump administration officials with “direct knowledge” told the global news organization. The 2016 election was when that covert source became one of the most valuable and protected assets of the CIA. As knowledge about Russian interference in the election became known and covered by news media in 2017, the CIA extracted the spy for their safety.

The decision effectively ended a career and blinded the agency from learning more about interference in the 2018 midterm elections and the upcoming 2020 presidential election.

New law requires Missouri schools to start later

As of 2020, Missouri schools are prohibited from starting 14 days earlier than Labor Day for one reason—tourism. Not what you were expecting at the end of that sentence, right? On top of that, another new law requires schools to track the number of hours school is in session (1,044 hours) instead of days.

The Kirkwood Call, a school newspaper from Kirkwood High School, reported the news in early September, and editor-in-chief Megan Cleveland reached out to school officials and students alike to hear community reaction to the bold change.

Edvin Johansson, Unsplash

“We’ve always had the timing where we were out [of school] before Memorial Day and I don’t know if that will be possible by starting  later,” KHS Principal Michael Havener said. “Labor Day also changes every year, so depending on when Labor Day falls will dictate how long summer is.”

Educators and students alike both said the change will most likely increase stress on students, whether that stress comes because of less AP instructional time or longer days at school for student-athletes.

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.

Pre-ordering ends Tuesday, Sept. 17 for guaranteed Oct. 15 delivery, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still get great journalism swag after that date! Get yours today in order to support the Quill and Scroll Scholarship Fund, which benefits Quill and Scroll members who plan to study journalism in college. All profits will go to the fund.

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 critiques announced

Quill and Scroll’s News Media Evaluation service judges are done with their work for 2019, and they’ve identified 15 news publications—in print and online—that received the prestigious Gallup Award from Q&S. Click here to find out who the winners were.

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.”

2019 Newspaper Pacemaker finalists announced

Congratulations to the 49 scholastic print publications—newspapers and newsmagazines alike—that National Scholastic Press Association honored with journalistic excellence when they released the finalist results of their prestigious Pacemaker competition last week.

Winners will be announced at the JEA/NSPA Fall National High School Journalism Convention, Nov. 21-24, 2019, in Washington, D.C. If you’re there, stop by and say hello to our director, Jeff Browne.

A word from NSPA Pacemaker Associate Director  and Coordinator Gary Lundgren: “The best newspapers and newsmagazines delivered relevant coverage that resonated with student readers and the school community with appropriate sourcing, abundant student quotes and consistent journalistic style. The Pacemakers represent the best in verbal and visual storytelling.

View all the finalists here.

What’s Viral?

Female student swimmer’s bathing suit disqualification overturned

skeeze, Pixabay

A female swimmer at Dimond High School thought she won her race on Sept. 6 only to be find out she was disqualified for a “uniform violation.” The unidentified referee told an official, Annette Rohde, that the bottom of the athlete’s swimsuit “was so far up I could see butt cheek touching butt cheek,” according to Anchorage Daily News.

Outrage over the decision to disqualify an athlete for a wedgie while she was actively participating in intense aerobic competition led the Anchorage School District to appeal the referee’s call. The event prompted a fierce debate about how female athletes and their bodies are policed, according to The Washington Post’s coverage.

The disqualification was overruled on Sept. 11 by the Alaska School Activities Association, and the swimmer regained her victory and title. However, the conversation about female athletes and their bodies has not been forgotten, calling into question discrimination of different body types among other things.

Chaos commences after AP hyphen guidance altered

A tornado hurtled toward journalists, promising that nothing will ever be the same as a storm of change was coming. The tornado was in fact the news that the guide to using hyphens in AP Style coverage has changed indefinitely at the hands of the Associated Press.

Too dramatic? The replies to AP’s update on their Twitter post doesn’t suggest so:

The change states “no hyphen is needed in a compound modifier if the modifier is commonly recognized as one phrase, and if the meaning is clear and unambiguous without the hyphen.”

While some felt they didn’t even get a warning for this so-called disastrous tornado, the sirens of change have been blaring for quite some time.

“AP has always been hyphen-averse, preferring that a writer clarify the sentence for someone who does not understand the hyphen ‘rules,'” according to Columbia Journalism Review. “The modification of the ‘rules’ on hyphens, as [Paula] Froke [lead AP Stylebook editor] told the editors, came about because many people asked whether those hyphens were needed.”

So the sky is not falling, and the foundations of journalism aren’t ripping up off the ground. Instead, journalists now have to accept that the usage of hyphens will be limited to avoid confusion from the general public to the best of their ability, starting with compound modifiers.

Is that the best-case scenario? Or the best case scenario? It’s up to you, I guess.

Closet for kids at school

An eighth grader in Louisiana sowed the seeds of support for his classmates as he spearheaded the creation of a school closet to supply clothes and supplies to students in need. The closet is stuffed full of donated items, that families and students alike can take from—no questions asked. Items in the closet include clothing, shoes, hygiene products, school supplies and more.

Chase Neyland-Square is the name of that eight grader and he runs “PAM’s Pantry” behind a stage in the Port Allen Middle School’s gymnasium. He’s 13 yearsold, and he plans to turn this school program project into a nonprofit organization.

Read more about the story here or watch below. It’s a wonderful story that Quill & Scroll chapters and members could become involved in at their respective schools.

Just a Thought

Photo by The Climate Reality Project on Unsplash

Can journalists be activists?

A short opinion piece by Q&S Executive Director Jeff Browne

For the first 20 years of my journalism career, I was a snob.

Roughly from the time I started working as a reporter on Lincoln East High School’s The Oracle in 1979, through my college journalism career, through six years as a sports reporter and columnist, and through nine years as a high school journalism adviser, I believed that journalists provided information for our readers, viewers and listeners that would allow that audience to be better citizens.

Never, I thought, should we advocate for any position, that the information we provided should be sufficient for people to make up their own minds. I distrusted public relations professionals as hopeless hacks who were paid to fudge the truth, who were more interested in pushing an agenda than seeking the truth

My position began to morph in 1999 when I started teaching and advising college journalists at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. CSU had (and still has) a fantastic program in public relations, and many of those students were in my news writing classes and on the staff of The Rocky Mountain Collegian newspaper. As I got to know those students, I also learned how PR professionals work, and that they, too, have the truth as the foundational principle for their work. They just choose to promote a viewpoint while also telling the truth, or at least we hope they do.

This piece from Nieman Reports at Harvard asks the key question: Where does journalism end and activism begin? The lede focuses on the work done by Marjory Stoneman Douglas students, including one who sees activism as being at the very heart of journalism.

Here at Quill and Scroll, we encourage our student chapters to be active, but not particularly in a political way. We want our students to promote the eight values of the organization, and they include some values — specifically loyalty and friendship — that many journalists eschew in favor of blunt truth-telling, no matter the consequences.

But our organization chooses to take a softer path, one that includes advocacy, even if not for political purposes. We hope that our chapters contribute to the greater good in their communities, that they work with underserved and traditionally marginalized communities to make their lives better. Some Quill and Scroll chapters do that through coat drives, other collect canned food, and some Quill and Scroll journalists serve as mentors for middle school journalists in their towns and districts.

Still, our single most important value — and the first one mentioned in our induction ceremony — is truth. And when we’re faced with politicians, including the president of the United States, who lie multiple times a day, it’s hard not to call out those lies. Is that a political act? Some see it as such, even though it’s at the heart of the journalistic endeavor.

The best advice for a Quill and Scroll journalist pondering a foray into activism?

  • Be active, but always base your actions on thorough research;
  • Be ready to change your mind about what you consider to be the truth, based on all evidence available to you; AND
  • Be empathetic about how your stories will affect the persons you’re covering.

Most importantly, don’t be a snob. It’s a bad way to go through life.