A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists


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May 1st, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Journalist on Call, Odds and Ends
Beyond the hard news: 23 tips for when feature ideas run out

While COVID19 has necessitated hard news writing (under very challenging circumstances), consumers also need and want more to engage them, help them and even make them smile during these challenging times. Need some ideas to supplement the leading news stories? At Quill, we brainstormed and came up with a list of story areas that might fill your editorial gaps. Dating life.


April 15th, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Bookshelf, Diversity, Odds and Ends
Bookshelf: “Ebony Magazine and Lerone Bennett Jr.: Popular Black History in Postwar America”

For decades, Ebony magazine provided something unique: a high-gloss, high-profile magazine focused solely on black America. While other magazines offered occasional glimpses into their lives, their heroes and their challenges, Ebony put African Americans and their stories on the cover and on every page that followed.


April 8th, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog, Code Words, Ethics Toolbox
Ethics: Answering questions about COVID-19 coverage

At the Society of Professional Journalists, we talk a lot about how your ethical standards should not change no matter the medium or type of story you are producing. While covering COVID-19, the same is true: Ethics apply no matter the medium.


April 3rd, 2020 • Featured, Departments, Quill Archives
CDC sued over release of policies restricting free speech

CORRECTION: The headline for this story originally stated that the White House was being sued. The original FOIA request was for the CDC and the White House, but the subsequent lawsuit only names the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human services.


April 1st, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog, Toolbox, Quill Archives, Freelance Toolbox
Freelancers, Unemployment and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act

Can you show a decrease in your journalism income because of the current pandemic? Freelance journalists nationwide including sole proprietors, independent contractors and the self-employed (for example, S Corporation owners) might now be entitled unemployment benefits in their state. Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, the provisions of the unemployment program have been expanded to help provide temporary monetary relief for freelance journalists and other workers who illustrate a decrease in income resulting from the effects of the current pandemic virus on business operations.


March 18th, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog, Toolbox, Quill Archives
Hicks: Groups urge care, precision in coronavirus reporting

Journalists covering the coronavirus have produced compelling, informative stories, but along the way, there have been mischaracterizations, inaccuracies and absent nuances. An ABC News story posted to its website incorrectly implied the terms coronavirus and COVID-19 can be used interchangeably, a common mistake.


March 9th, 2020 • From the President
From the President: Facing off with fake news

As my year as SPJ president approached, I put “fight fake news” on my to-do list. I’ll respond to every nasty slam, every spurious tweet, every “enemy of the people” put-down with a counter-tweet of my own, I thought. A few tweets in – with low-impact “No, you are incorrect, Mr.


March 3rd, 2020 • Featured, Quill Blog, Quill Archives, Journalist on Call
Hicks: During crises, public needs trust in government and the press

As the infectious coronavirus travels the globe, claiming more than 3,000 lives so far, public health professionals have urged people to learn the facts. Meanwhile, a White House official had a different message for Americans: Stay uninformed. Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney on Feb.


February 18th, 2020 • Quill Blog, Toolbox, Freelance Toolbox, Narrative Writing Toolbox
Excerpt: Tips on organizing notes from “The Craft of Science Writing”

The new book The Craft of Science Writing is a curated collection from The Open Notebook, a primary resource for science journalists. It offers a primer on how to report and write about science, including how to read a scientific paper and how to explain complex concepts and processes clearly.


February 13th, 2020 • Odds and Ends
Bookshelf: “Author in Chief: The Untold Story of our Presidents and the Books They Wrote”

About 10 years ago, journalist and historian Craig Fehrman got an idea for a book. It would be a book about the books that presidents write. Pretty simple, right? Just make a list of all of those books, read them and then tell people about what you’ve read.


February 3rd, 2020 • Featured, Freelance Toolbox, Odds and Ends
Studies show…or maybe they don’t

Misinterpreted data and unsubstantiated conclusions plague press and social media. What can journalists do to stop them? Quill asked Rob Pyatt, who has presented workshops focused on teaching critical thinking skills, to chime in on the subject. Pyatt, an assistant professor in the New Jersey Center for Science, Technology and Mathematics at Kean University, is certified in Clinical Molecular Genetics and serves as a director of the Oxy-Gen Laboratory in Norcross, Georgia. 


January 22nd, 2020 • Featured, Ten With...
10 with Al Letson

Bringing with him a résumé that included work as a hip-hop musician, a slam poet, a playwright, a performer and even a comic book author, Al Letson joined The Center for Investigative Reporting to help launch and host public radio’s first hourlong investigative journalism show, “Reveal.”


December 20th, 2019 • Featured, From the President
From the President: Women have long been a force at SPJ

Since the days of Nellie Bly – and likely before – women have been a force in journalism. They lead newsrooms. They win Pulitzer Prizes. They fill pages and screens with high-quality, can’t-miss coverage. And in my world – journalism higher ed – they fill far more classroom seats than their male counterparts.


December 19th, 2019 • Featured, Journalist on Call
Hicks: Media essential in impeachment understanding

Much of the evidence introduced during the House impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump was accessible to Americans through the news media and online sites. This allowed unprecedented access to hours of testimony, the opportunity to review documents and, ostensibly, to judge the case against Trump for themselves.


December 13th, 2019 • Featured, Toolbox
Toolbox: What’s to like (and not like) about “likes” leaving Instagram? 

Instagram has begun hiding likes. Well, from the public. You, as a user, will still be able to see your own likes once this reaches all accounts, but your followers (and their followers and their friends), won’t be able to see your likes.


October 1st, 2019 • Featured, Quill Archives, Ethics Toolbox
The SPJ Code of Ethics at 110

As the Society of Professional Journalists celebrates its 110th anniversary in 2019, it may come as a surprise that SPJ did not have its signature Code of Ethics for the group’s first 17 years. In 1909 when the young men at DePauw University founded SPJ as a college fraternity, Sigma Delta Chi, one of their goals was “to advance the standards of the press by fostering a higher ethical code.”