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SPJ - Quill Headlines

SPJ Delivers Today's Media News

Copyright: Copyright 2006 Society of Professional Journalists

Lynn Walsh: Lessons from the ‘Enemy of the People’

Mon, 28 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0500

Joy and excitement, anger and frustration, inspiration and hope. These are all emotions that have flooded through me during my term as SPJ president.

And I wouldn't take back any of those moments for anything.

It has been an honor to represent all of you and speak out on behalf of journalists in support of a free press, government transparency and ethical journalism. Along the way I've had an opportunity to meet some of you and hear from more of you. For those I haven't connected with, I h...

Journalist, mentor, educator, country girl at heart

Mon, 28 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0500

At a young age, Nerissa Young filled a few pages with scribbles to proudly show her mother she was a writer. The urge to do journalism, not just writing, came while she worked for WMTD-FM, a mom-and-pop radio station in Hinton, West Virginia, thanks to the excitement of covering her community and the strange but true things that happen.

While pursuing a master’s degree in journalism at Marshall University, Young joined SPJ thanks to the suggestion of her mentors, George Arnold and Ralph Turne...

Storytelling: Good in theory and in practice

Mon, 28 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0500

When I studied martial arts, I spent hours practicing technique. In a controlled environment, it was magic. But each student wondered if it would work on the street.

And so it is with narrative storytelling. At writing conferences, we study handouts and discuss stories that have been reported, written and published — what happens back in the newsroom. In my next two columns, I want to deal with the “real-world” by looking at the storytelling process used by two writers who’ve heard me speak.

Ethics: Clarifying terrifying terms

Mon, 28 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0500

Ricky John Best, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Micah David-Cole Fletcher were stabbed May 26 when they attempted to stop a man from harassing two teens with racist and anti-Muslim rants on a train in Portland, Oregon. Best and Namkai-Meche died.

A lot of the attention on social media following the attack centered on the news media’s use or avoidance of the word “terrorism” in discussing the events. People rightly pointed out that media organizations are quick to bring up the words “terro...

Freelancing: Putting on the boss hat

Mon, 28 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0500

Autonomy is part of the appeal of freelancing. As independent journalists, we work with editors as our clients, not our supervisors. We choose our projects and set our own schedules. We may or may not work in our pajamas, or from a lawn chair in the backyard. We’re our own bosses.

But sometimes, that means bossing yourself around.

The joy of working on what you want, when you want doesn’t always translate into getting done what needs doing; autonomy can also be a pitfall. Successful freel...

Become a more effective accountability reporter

Mon, 28 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0500

You might know the American Press Institute for its deep research on a variety of issues in journalism, something we’ve done for years as a think tank based in the Washington, D.C., area.
Recently, though, we decided to study something a little different: people.

Here’s how it happened. While working on our ongoing accountability journalism project, we met journalists around the country whose work seemed particularly influential in their communities. They were engaging audiences, encouraging...

Writing: Handle quotations with care, not obligation

Mon, 28 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0500

The right quotes can enliven and humanize a story and help make it clear, credible and dramatic. Yet many quotations in media writing are dull, inscrutable and even ungrammatical. (The writer’s defense? Well, that’s what he said.)

Overall, as with writing in general, the good quotation’s worst enemy is wordy, arcane phrasing:
“The term originated in the early 20th century,” he said, “when evolutionary theory had it that most genes had a good variant that was by far the most common...

Students and design: a return to kindergarten

Mon, 28 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0500

Chocolate Milk. Capri Sun drink pouches. Snickerdoodles. Sugar cookies. Pipe cleaners. Glitter glue. Colored feathers. The checkout clerk asks, “Looks like a fun party — kid’s birthday?”

“No,” I answer. “Just supplies for a journalism design class. College kids.”

And so it went almost every week this past school year: snacks and crafts and lots of learning. I had been assigned the editing and design course after a 16-year absence from teaching something similar. In 2000, it was all about d...

Weeding the FOI garden

Mon, 28 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0500

When members of SPJ’s own Freedom of Information Committee have never heard of SPJ’s Project Sunshine or know who their state’s Sunshine Chair is, can we call the effort a failure?

Or at least in serious need of an overhaul?

The current FOI Committee, under Gideon Grudo’s guidance as chair, undertook an update of SPJ’s state-by-state FOI resource guide this spring. Early on, committee members encountered issues with out-of-date phone numbers, contact names and web addresses. It hasn’t bee...

Conduct interviews that will get even the haters to talk

Mon, 28 Aug 2017 00:00:00 -0500

I love the movie “Almost Famous.” It has a compelling story about a kid who wants to write about rock music; it has good acting (Kate Hudson, Billy Crudup, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Francis McDormand, Zooey Deschanel, Jimmy Fallon, and a one-second appearance by Mitch Hedberg); early scenes are shot in my home town of San Diego; it’s based on an experience of a local celebrity (Cameron Crowe); it has good music and more.

But one of the main reasons is it’s also an instructional movie about inte...

Behind Bars - And In SPJ

Fri, 16 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0500

When Nancy Mullane said she thought the Society of Professional Journalists might accept a group of incarcerated men as members of a satellite chapter, I thought, “This woman is crazy.” No way would “Professional Journalists” accept men banned from society as colleagues. But it turns out, they have. Now, 38 incarcerated SPJ members attend weekly meetings held inside a media center building surrounded by barbed wire and guard towers.

This project, to build an SPJ group inside San Quentin, too...

Lynn Walsh: SPJ challenges journalists to engage and inform

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0500

Broadway had a new star in late April: the SPJ Code of Ethics.

In case you missed it, the SPJ Ethics Committee, led by Chairman Andrew Seaman and SPJ headquarters staff, launched a campaign that was front and center on jumbo screens in New York City’s Times Square.

“Truthful, compassionate, independent, transparent journalism,” was the message. The goal was to encourage everyone — journalists and non-journalists — to #PressForEthics.

The billboards were a major part of 'Payload': An Original Short Story By Novelist Jess Walter

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0500

Note: This original short story by author and former journalist Jess Walter comes as part of Quill’s “Journalists Not Being Journalists” series, encouraging creative pursuits by journalists outside the daily deadline. Walter first read it in April at the Pie & Whiskey event during the annual Get Lit Festival in Spokane, Washington. It is a work of fiction.


Maybe they’re right.
Maybe we all need someone to blame...

Should I Go Into Journalism, Jess Walter?

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0500

When I give readings or lectures at colleges, after all the boring “future of the novel” talk, there’s always one student who looks around sheepishly and asks: “Would you go into journalism today?”
I have been a novelist for almost 20 years, but I always credit my journalism background for my discipline, for my innate curiosity, for my write-about-anything chops. I sometimes say that my writer friends with creative writing MFAs are like classically trained musicians while I grew up pulling requ...

Engagement: Buzzword No More

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0500

Newsrooms have heard for years now: engage, engage, engage. Build community. Connect. Interact. And maybe in so doing, you’ll get clicks that turn into dollars. Beyond the buzzwords, beyond the advice of so-called “gurus” and self-proclaimed experts, what does engagement – truly, practically, deeply – mean with the public? There are a lot of lessons newsrooms and journalists of all types can take away from the ways public media has approached it. Dig a little deeper beyond the word and take a lo...

Power (Of Listening) To The Public

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0500

It’s a cliché for a reason. Money is the force that shapes decision-making in all businesses – for-profit, non-profit and everything else. And every newsrooms is, of course, a business.

But while journalists are instructed to “follow the money” in their reporting – revealing power structures and their often problematic consequences – many are insulated from the need to understand the their own organization’s business model and its implications on how they spend their time – and what they’re...

Beyond Buzzwords And (Tote) Bags

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0500

Journalists from newsrooms of all sizes can learn a lot more from public and community broadcasting than how to hawk tote bags during the annual pledge drive.

Public broadcasting “has traditionally pressed for close connections with listeners — encouraging them as volunteers, inviting their participation in events and turning to them for membership support,” notes a community interaction guide for public broadcasting news...

Ten with Angelo Lopez

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0500

Angelo Lopez came to California in 1974 and hasn’t left. It wasn’t a gold rush that brought him, but he did live the somewhat nomadic lifestyle of a prospector moving from place to place as a self-described “Navy brat.” Born in Norfolk, Virginia, to Filipino parents, he spent his youth on military bases on the U.S. East Coast and Japan. He admits to always wanting to draw whenever he could get his hands on a spare scrap of paper, which attracted him to the illustration program at San Jose Sta...

Journalism Is In Amanda Womac's Nature

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0500

Born and raised in Appalachia, Amanda Womac is no stranger to the great outdoors. She’s grown up with strong ties to the land, water and mountains she calls home.

Science and environmental journalism came naturally to her.

Originally an environmental activist, she was pursuing a degree in creative writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga when she realized that being a journalist might be her calling. In her work with environmental groups, she was often called on to write pres...

Documentary Short Filmmaking For J-Students

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 00:00:00 -0500

When the Center for Media & Social Impact asked Sundance filmmaker Laura Poitras if she was a filmmaker, a journalist or both, she responded, “It’s journalism plus.”
The director of the Edward Snowden documentary “Citizenfour” is a self-professed visual journalist. In an ever-changing media landscape, introducing journalism students to the basics of documentary filmmaking can be a rewarding and beneficial process. Also, teaching documentary short filmmaking is an ideal way to incorporate video...