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Dartmouth 2018 Using the media to publicize your research . Les Perelman

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Presentation at the 2018 Dartmouth Summer Seminar in Composition Research

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Dartmouth 2018 Using the media to publicize your research . Les Perelman

  1. 1. Show Don’t Tell How to Pitch to the Media & Their Care and Feeding Les Perelman Massachusetts Institute of Technology Dartmouth 2018
  2. 2. The Pitch • The beginning of most news stories is the pitch – You pitch a story to the reporter – A reporter pitches a story to an editor • The pitch should be able to be condensed into a one sentence “lead” that presents all important information
  3. 3. Unusual
  4. 4. Of interest outside academic communities Norvig – Chomsky Debate Robo-Graders
  5. 5. Telling a Story -- Simplify SAT Essay Test Rewards Length and Ignores Errors By MICHAEL WINERIP MAY 4, 2005 CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - IN March, Les Perelman attended a national college writing conference and sat in on a panel on the new SAT writing test. Dr. Perelman is one of the directors of undergraduate writing at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He fears that the new 25-minute SAT essay test that started in March -- and will be given for the second time on Saturday -- is actually teaching high school students terrible writing habits. "It appeared to me that regardless of what a student wrote, the longer the essay, the higher the score," Dr. Perelman said. A man on the panel from the College Board disagreed. "He told me I was jumping to conclusions," Dr. Perelman said. "Because M.I.T. is a place where everything is backed by data, I went to my hotel room, counted the words in those essays and put them in an Excel spreadsheet on my laptop.” He was stunned by how complete the correlation was between length and score. "I have never found a quantifiable predictor in 25 years of grading that was anywhere near as strong as this one," he said. "If you just graded them based on length without ever reading them, you'd be right over 90 percent of the time." SAT graders are told to read an essay just once and spend two to three minutes per essay, and Dr. Perelman is now adept at rapid-fire SAT grading. This reporter held up a sample essay far enough away so it could not be read, and he was still able to guess the correct grade by its bulk and shape. "That's a 4," he said. "It looks like a 4."
  6. 6. The “grabber” Dr. Perelman is now adept at rapid-fire SAT grading. This reporter held up a sample essay far enough away so it could not be read, and he was still able to guess the correct grade by its bulk and shape. "That's a 4," he said. "It looks like a 4."
  7. 7. It’s a 2It’s a 5
  8. 8. Hope the Story Gets Picked Up Humor Always Helps
  9. 9. Colbert Report on SAT Word Length
  10. 10. Next Stop an OpEd May 29, 2005|Les Perelman New SAT: Write Long, Badly and Prosper When the administrators of the SAT announced that their new test would include a 25- minute essay portion, writing teachers around the country were optimistic. We hoped it would be a genuine test of writing ability, and that over time it would increase the emphasis on good writing in high schools and lead to better-prepared, more-literate students being sent off to college. First, the test encourages wordiness. Longer essays consistently score higher. Shortly after the test was first administered in March, I looked at scored samples that were made public, including the set used to train graders. I discovered that I could guess an essay's prescribed score just by looking at its length -- even from across a room. One verbose sample that received a perfect 6 concluded with the ridiculous sentence: "If secrecy were eradicated, many problems, such as internal division, but also possibly hate, might also be eliminated." Just as disconcerting is the test's disregard for factual accuracy. The official guide for scorers states: "Writers may make errors in facts or information that do not affect the quality of their essays. For example, a writer may state 'The American Revolution began in 1842' or 'Anna Karenina, a play by the French author Joseph Conrad, was a very upbeat literary work.' " One of the sample papers scoring a "perfect" 6, for example, described the "firing of two shots at Fort Sumter in late 1862," even though it was in early 1861 and 4,000 shots were fired.
  11. 11. Be Funny & Entertaining Be a Showman Keep Trying to Be Funny • “Stating that ‘the War of 1812 began in 1945’ usually will get you a high grade.”
  12. 12. Show Don’t Tell Example: My Spot on Japanese National Television
  13. 13. Use memorable language
  14. 14. Become An Asset to Journalists Establish relationships
  15. 15. Example: Marilee Jones Dean at M.I.T. Resigns, Ending a 28-Year Lie By TAMAR LEWIN APRIL 27, 2007 Marilee Jones, the dean of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, became well known for urging stressed-out students competing for elite colleges to calm down and stop trying to be perfect. Yesterday she admitted that she had fabricated her own educational credentials, and resigned after nearly three decades at M.I.T. Officials of the institute said she did not have even an undergraduate degree. “It’s like a Thomas Hardy tragedy, because she did so much good, but something she did long ago came back and trumped it,” said one friend, Leslie C. Perelman, director of Writing Across the Curriculum at M.I.T.
  16. 16. But Don’t Get Into Trouble Do Not Give Out Any Information You Would Not Want on the Front Page of the New York Times • Most of the conversation should be off-the-record – The reporter can only use the information as background • Negotiate for quotes and attribution • But at the same time, if there is a story that you can tip them on, do so if it will not harm you or your institution. • Only start on-the-record in radio interviews (where there is no-off-the-record) and press interviews in which you are sure you want your words to appear in the press.