November 8, 2019

News, tips and advice from Quill and Scroll

The Lede

Headlines are all over the map

So what’s happening in the impeachment process this week? Well, it depends on the media you read.

Photo by Matthew Guay on Unsplash

Do your best to stay informed, and do your best to read information from a variety of sources. If you’re curious if a source is biased — and if it’s biased, to which side of the political spectrum does it lean — there are a lot of options to turn to.

  • is a news aggregator that presents information from differing sources, which it labels as left, left-center, unbiased, right-center or right.
  • analyzes media content from hundreds of sources and labels it in the same way does, but Mediabiasfactcheck also uses labels such as “unreliable” for sources that push conspiracy theories and lies.
  • and check statements made by public officials — often statements made in news account — and provide ratings on the truthfulness of the statements.

There’s no reason for news consumers to give up on determining news bias. Resources exist. And there’s absolutely no reason for any citizen to give up on consuming news in these intriguing and historic times.

Nixon who?

If you’re a recent Quill and Scroll inductee, you probably have just a vague grasp of what Richard Nixon did that eventually led him to resign the presidency in August 1974. Heck, even your teachers may not fully remember how everything went down from the Watergate burglary to the cover-up to the impeachment and Nixon’s resignation. Below is a trailer for the movie “All the President’s Men,” based on the reporting of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward of the Washington Post.

And here is a news analysis from the Boston Herald that outlines how the impeachment proceedings against Nixon compare with today’s proceedings.

Judge strikes down healthcare “conscience rule”

Should healthcare providers be able to opt out of providing certain types of care based on their religious beliefs and objections?

That was the question at the heart of a ruling issued Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer in New York. Engelmayer’s ruling struck down the Department of Health and Human Services’ “Conscience Rule,” which was issued in May, on the basis that HHS “acted arbitrarily and capriciously” in putting forth the new rule.

The rule was to have gone into effect on Nov. 22.

It’s An Honor

Q&S podcast interviews international journalist Susanne Fowler

Listen to THE SOURCE, Quill and Scroll’s podcast, as host Sylvia Clubb, interviews Susanne Fowler, a reporter and editor who has worked for several news outlets, including the New York Times. Susanne is also a member of Quill and Scroll, having been inducted in the 1970s at her alma mater, Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Kennedy High School.

2020 Writing, Photo and Multimedia Contest updates categories

As a means of updating the contest so that it rewards students with the kind of work they regularly produce in their newsrooms, the 2020 Quill and Scroll Writing, Photo and Multimedia Contest has added categories that reflect that work.

New contest categories include:

  • Portrait Profile Photo — This is likely to be an environmental portrait of a person or a group of people. These sorts of photos usually accompany a profile story.
  • Documentary Video — This is not a news video, but a non-fiction project that your students may have completed that feels more like a film. It can be any length longer than five minutes. Traditional news packages should be entered in the Video Package categories: news, sports and features.
  • News Show for Web or TV: Single Episode — Submit a single show of between five and 30 minutes, produced either for cable and/or web.

Quill and Scroll will also award Blue and Gold Awards in three areas this year: Comprehensive Writing (Categories 1-11 below), Comprehensive Visuals (Categories 12-24) and Comprehensive Multimedia (Categories 25-30). In addition, Blue and Gold Awards will be given for overall excellence. McCallum High School has earned that crown each of the past two years.

Entry forms will be available on this page beginning Dec. 1, 2019. The contest deadline remains Feb. 5, 2020. As always, the top 10 percent of all entries in every category qualify the student who produced it for the Quill and Scroll scholarships in their senior year.

Here are the 2020 contest categories:

  1. Editorial Writing
  2. News Writing
  3. Feature Writing
  4. Opinion Writing 
  5. Review Writing
  6. In-Depth Reporting: Individual 
  7. In-Depth Reporting: Team
  8. Sports Writing
  9. Profile Writing
  10. Political Writing
  11. Health, Science and Agriculture Writing
  12. News Feature Photo
  13. Sports Action Photo
  14. Sports Reaction Photo
  15. Photo Illustration
  16. Photo Slideshow
  17. Profile Portrait
  18. Cartoon
  19. Informational Graphic
  20. News Mag Cover Design
  21. News Front Page Design
  22. Feature Page Design
  23. Sports Page Design
  24. Editorial Page Design
  25. Video News Package (up to five minutes)
  26. Video Sports Package (up to five minutes)
  27. Video Feature Package (up to five minutes)
  28. Documentary Video (Single subject, five minutes or longer)
  29. Audio Podcast Single Episode (any length)
  30. News Show for Web or TV, Single Episode — 5:00 to 30:00

Official Quill and Scroll video!

Discover the rich history behind Quill and Scroll’s founding principles and organizational practices. Click that play button below to join our journey, understanding how we developed and progressed over the years. From 1926 to today, we are an organization dedicated to honoring quality student journalist work, providing students and their advisers with resources to do that great work and have it recognized.

Video accredited to Roman Slabach from The Daily Iowan.

“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.

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!

What’s Viral?

Fake News isn’t easy to spot on Facebook

A study from researchers in Texas, Indiana and Hawaii concludes that Facebook users may think they’re able to discern real news from fake news, but they probably can’t.

“We all believe that we are better than the average person at detecting fake news, but that’s simply not possible,” said lead author Patricia Moravec, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “The environment of social media and our own biases make us all much worse than we think.”

Student newspapers provide news coverage for whole towns

The Michigan Daily, University of Michigan’s student-run newspaper, has been the only running newspaper (both print and online) in Ann Arbor, Michigan for more than a decade.

The Michigan Daily is just one of many student newspapers throughout the country that have become the sole providers for print news in certain regions. These journalists have broken key stories providing change throughout their communities: forcing resignations and gaining international attention for being the first to break stories.

Even in our own News Media Evaluation contest, judges commented on the applicability of news stories community-wide rather than just within the environment of specific high schools.

The competing source for news for Ann Arbor residents is the online publication, which focuses on state-wide news for Michigan. The online site also includes a twice-a-week insert on Ann Arbor specifically.

While The University of Michigan does not have a university journalism program, the Daily remains a staple within the community for local and national news. The Daily receives a $4.5 million endowment to achieve its goals – much unlike other university and local newspapers. The Daily holds a circulation of about 7,500 five days a week, but averages 500,000 online page views a month. The difference between circulation and page views has caused The Daily to shift to an online presence, similar to papers across the United States. Here’s how The Michigan Daily and other student newspapers impact their communities.

High school newsletter speaks to immigrants

Have you ever thought about how people from different countries receive news if they cannot read? If they do not own a television? A student in Columbus, Ohio has taken the initiative to create a newsletter directed specifically towards the immigrants and refugees in her community. The newsletters are written in three different languages, allowing it to be distributed to many different communities of immigrants throughout Ohio.

The teenager strives for those who receive the newsletter to feel a stronger sense of community in the area. Here’s how she created the newsletter. 

Photo by The Associated Press

Falling back: should the United States continue following daylight savings time?

Daylight savings time: providing you with more sleep in the fall, and less sleep in the spring. The concept has been around since Benjamin Franklin pioneered the idea in the eighteenth century, yet the United States is still conflicted on whether this should be practiced.

With George W. Bush’s 2005 bill to extend daylight savings time from the first Sunday of November to the second Sunday of March America has been following this for nearly 15 years. But did you know a state can petition to stay in standard time all year? And, President Trump is in support of eliminating daylight savings time as a whole? Read about how your state can stay in one sleep cycle all year long here.

Just a Thought

Understanding an ordinary day in an extreme world

Photographer Marieke van der Velden takes us through her experience in analyzing and writing about news and how it impacts her views of the world. News media is filled with primarily negative stories; the negative often seems to override the positive. All of these stories are created by different people in order for an unspecified audience to understand something about the world. This becomes overwhelming.

What Van der Velden suggests is taking the extremes and bringing them down to a personal level: can I make an impact on this situation? Can I focus on my normal, every day life while still caring about what is happening in the world?

Van der Velden focused on finding the minute details within extreme stories and bringing them down to a human level.