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RIT in the news: A new “low” News hits

Thanks to the hard work of RIT student engineers, led by alumnus Dan Scoville ’05, deep-sea explorers are getting their first look at a commercial sailing vessel that sank to the bottom of Lake Ontario more than 160 years ago.

Cool story, right? That’s what we thought when Mike Saffran introduced it to the RIT community last May in an article that appeared in News & Events. Mike has spent a great deal of time and effort pitching it to the external media in hopes of sharing the story with a broader audience. Seven months later, a little persistence and patience has paid off.

On Sunday, columnist Gary Fallesen featured the project in the Democrat and Chronicle. Just a few days later, it became the focus of an article by The Associated Press, which has been distributed this week to media outlets across the country. At last count, about 75 major metropolitan daily newspapers have made the article available to their readers, including the The Los Angeles Times.

So many people in the Rochester area are already familiar with the remarkable projects and programs taking place on the RIT campus. It’s very rewarding to see that awareness starting to spread across the country.

  1. Pete
    Dec 12


  2. Mike Saffran
    Dec 12

    When I first pitched this story locally last spring, I described it to a reporter this way: “In my six-and-a-half years [now seven] at RIT, this has to be one of the coolest stories I’ve reported.”

    Trust me, I know better than to ‘cry wolf’ when pitching stories (which, I hope, reporters recognize). So believe me when I say that I truly felt this was a cool story. It was all the more perplexing, then, when it was picked up by only a couple local TV stations. (Meanwhile, reporters for the Chicago Tribune and a handful of other outlets recognized a great story when they saw it last spring.)

    The impetus for the far-reaching publicity this time around was the release of the name of the sunken vessel by the explorers, Dan Scoville and Jim Kennard (the craft’s name had previously been undisclosed). I feel a sense of vindication seeing the story today in major dailies such as the LA Times, Washington Post, Houston Chronicle, New York Newsday, San Francisco Chronicle, Baltimore Sun and close to a hundred others at last count. I guess I was right after all—it is a pretty cool story!

  3. Justin Thorp
    Dec 12

    Congrats Mike! I wish I would have know about the story. I would have looked for it before I tossed my Washington Post for today.

    It would have been cool if the team engineers had a blog so that they could have created a community around their project right from the beginning.

  4. Mike Saffran
    Dec 13

    Thanks, Justin. Here's the Washington Post link:

    1849 Shipwreck Found in Lake Ontario

    You might also be interested in my RIT: The University Magazine story, which includes some "Web extras":

    Student-built explorer unlocks Lake Ontario Secrets

  5. Brandon Borgna
    Dec 14

    Justin, I agree with the blog idea. I think 'insider coverage' through websites and blogs will eventually become a standard during any potentially important event or activity as a way to give the audience a closer look at the action.

    On a side note, I was really good at diving for loose change in my pool when I was younger. I wonder if Dan Scoville needs an assistant for his next exploration.

  6. Extra! Extra! T
    Dec 14

    [...] The current (Winter 2006) issue has several Web extras. Sometimes they’re as simple as the press release that goes along with the story. Or a page of additional photos — as is the case for the Student-built explorer unlocks Lake Ontario secrets story we’ve been talking about on the blog recently. We’ve also linked to footage of the shipwreck’s the crew has discovered and to several of the recent stories in local and national news. [...]

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