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Current Issue | Browse Archive | About Quill | Advertising Info
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July/August 2014
Volume 102 | Number 4
View as PDF: Click to download


From the President
The future of SPJ, journalism and even democracy rest squarely on two people’s shoulders: Joe and Chris. That’s a huge burden, I know, and it might seem a little melodramatic, but it’s true. I’m talking about two people who really keep our organization moving: SPJ Executive Director Joe Skeel and ...

Codifying A New Code of Ethics
It’s finally here. After over a year of listening, gathering input, releasing drafts, doing re-writes and addressing concerns, the newly revised Code of Ethics is ready for prime time. But the show isn’t over yet. Just like in show business, it’s not over until the proverbial fat lady sings. In this ...

Code of Ethics Revision: What's Up and What Has Changed
The SPJ Ethics Committee met the weekend of July 11 to 13 in Columbus, Ohio, to put the finishing touches on a Code that will be presented to delegates at the national convention in Nashville, Sept. 4 to 6. Members of the SPJ Ethics Committee in Columbus for the in-person meeting were Kevin Z. Smith, ...

New Code of Ethics Not Ready for Prime Time
NOTE: A version of this critique from Steve Buttry first appeared on his blog. The rewrite of the SPJ Code of Ethics is moving in the right direction, just not far ...

Seriously, It’s Time to Get Serious About The Serial Comma (And Other Style Gripes)
Two spaces after a period. Always. Apostrophe after possessive words ending in “s,” not just plural possessives (e.g. Angus’ watch). State abbreviations according to AP Style, not postal codes. Why do we follow these conventions? For those who use the AP Stylebook, it’s a given that we’re ...

Ten with Kara Swisher
Kara Swisher may very well have been spying on your emails (or those of foreign leaders) had she followed her first path. As an undergraduate at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, she was on track to being a spy or diplomat. Instead, she’s reporting on modern-day tech giants. And ...

Digital Media Toolbox
More people are watching news videos online, Pew Research data suggests. But fewer people make it past the one-minute mark. We can debate all day whether shortening news to fit 140-characters or 15 seconds is helping or hurting journalism and attention spans. The reality is that people are watching ...

Diversity Toolbox
“Good enough” isn’t good enough if you are a data journalist. Even “accurate” isn’t good enough. When you’re working with data, it’s important to run it through a bias filter at every stage. That’s what three highly regarded investigative journalists insisted as we prepared for a panel on the ethics ...

Education Toolbox
Whenever I hear the call for journalism schools to be like teaching hospitals, I can’t help but picture an editing professor bellowing to student reporters in scrubs, “We’re losing this story. Get me 20 CCs of active voice — stat!” Jokes aside, we’ve been hearing a lot lately about the teaching hospital ...

Ethics Toolbox
When delegates convene during the closing business session at the national convention this September, they will have an extraordinary vote before them: whether to support revisions to SPJ’s Code of Ethics. There have been three such revisions and two compete rewrites in the Society’s 105 years, so this ...

Freelance Toolbox
Welcome to the (official) freelance community! You’re taking a bold step along with SPJ. The freelance community is a virtual chapter that meets online, linking SPJ members who are freelancers, no matter their locale. The most powerful thing about SPJ is its breadth. No other organization takes ...

Generation J Toolbox
Journalists are among those professionals expected to know how to write a sentence. Whether in print, online or in a broadcast script, we reporters and editors need to know how to draft sharp, precise copy at a moment's notice for public consumption. It’s tempting for younger journalists to gloss ...

Narrative Writing Toolbox
When my colleague stopped in the managing editor’s office to discuss a story, it was just the police scanner and me nearby, the start of what looked to be a quiet Monday morning. Then everything changed. You likely heard the rest on the news, or reported it yourself: a shooting at Reynolds High School ...

Words and Language Toolbox
Once, during my 20-year tenure as Dallas Morning News writing coach, an intern told me triumphantly: “Hey! I got all the W’s plus the H in my lead!” Now, writing being what writing is — that is, infinitely various — I knew the intern’s lead could be great. It also could be dreadful. ...

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