A reminder about reporting on academia (and probably everything else)

Sometimes you've really got to wonder.

The Chronical of Higher Ed just posted this article on a collaboration between A. Sean Pue, Tracy K. Teal, and myself. It's about bringing bioinformatics (or, really, CS and computational linguistics) to the study of Urdu poetic meter.

The article has two interesting flaws.

First, not one person in the article is referred to as "Professor" or "Dr", despite basically everyone in the article having both a PhD and being a professor. Understandable in Time Magazine. But in the Chronicle of Higher Ed, I would assume that the distinctions between these academic titles are well understood. Given how !#!#%^@$@^ long it takes to get the degrees, I think they should be mentioned.

Second, the article completely omits mention of The Third Collaborator, i.e. me. I didn't go to the NEH/NIH meeting, but they actually sent a photog out to MSU so that I could be included in pictures -- and they seem to have chosen the one picture that didn't actually have me in it (I'm lower right, just outside the camera frame). What?

I'm not upset at Tracy and Sean; I have no doubt they did their best to convey the collaboration. I'm not even upset at the reporter, who no doubt has his own incentives and time constraints. But it's worth mentioning as an example of inaccurate and incomplete reporting.

I've talked to enough reporters now to recognize that often the published story bears only a casual resemblance to the truth, especially when there's a good creation myth in the offing. But it's always good to have some blatant examples to wave around. And this is what blogs are for, right? Complaining :)


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