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Home > Publications > Quill

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September/October 2015
Volume 103, Number 5
View as PDF: Click to download

From the President
The Freedom of Information Act will mark its 50th anniversary next summer. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill, passed unanimously by both houses of Congress, on July 4, 1966, amid much fanfare. Leaders of Sigma Delta Chi, the predecessor of SPJ, had worked Capitol Hill for 10 years to get ...

Frack Attack: Fueling Secrecy
Deep in the grounds of Northeastern Pennsylvania, one of 66 oil and gas operators injects a high-pressure slurry of water and undisclosed chemicals into fractures in the rock, cracking the sediment and allowing oil to flow freely into one of 7,700 collecting wells. Hydraulic fracturing — fracking ...

It's (Not) Always Sunny in Paradise
Malia Zimmerman boarded the plane to American Samoa knowing this island visit would be anything but a vacation. The Hawaii-based reporter had been recruited by a former head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for a life-threatening mission: investigate slave labor at a garment factory ...

Ten with WDBJ News Director Kelly Zuber
The world watched in horror on Aug. 26 as two WDBJ journalists – reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward – were ambushed and murdered on live TV. Video of the attack on the journalists and Vicki Gardner, the person they were interviewing, quickly spread not only on air, but through social ...

Digital Media Toolbox
More and more government data is becoming available online, but the keys to unlocking stories belong to those who are willing to get their hands a little dirty in a spreadsheet program. Several states and cities have started publishing data sets online, publicly available to anyone for review and ...

Education Toolbox
In 2014, SPJ’s Journalism Education Committee conducted research into the state of high school journalism, and we uncovered several intriguing issues. Many programs are thriving, but others were troubling. Some lack support from local journalists and/or administrations, and nearly a third of all administrators ...

Ethics Toolbox
Nearly 1,000 shootings involving four or more people have occurred in the U.S. since 26 people – including 20 children – were killed in Newtown, Conn., by a gunman in December 2012, according to the crowdsourced Mass Shooting Tracker. While estimates suggest gun violence is less common today than ...

FOI Toolbox
Regardless of whether you live in or near a border town, immigration issues are moving to the forefront of people’s minds. And for good reason: Immigrants are coming to the United States at higher rates today than they were during the 1900s. Reporting and covering these issues is more important now ...

Freelance Toolbox
You’re a freelancer who decided to pursue a dig. You hit some sticky spots along the way. There are a few common issues that freelancers face. Gregg Leslie, legal defense director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and SPJ’s Ethics Committee chairman Andrew Seaman weigh in here and ...

Generation J Toolbox
News gathering, working sources, getting strangers to open up on camera. Reporters, especially multimedia journalists like myself, have a tall order every day. If you’re anything like me as a one-woman band in TV, not only are you shooting and editing, you need to get information, process it and ...

Narrative Writing Toolbox
The idea bounced around the newsroom and ended up in my in-box: A family of a terminally ill girl was going to throw a birthday party for her in one week. I was assigned to the story. I want to use my approach to the story to discuss story thinking and structure, as it relates to both reporting and ...

Words & Language Toolbox
One thing I’ve learned during a decade of teaching writing in universities and two decades as a newsroom writing coach is the importance of the small things. The single syllable, for example. On one hand, single-syllable words are the province of naturally gifted writers. Writers who diligently choose ...

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