2021 David Perlman Virtual Mentoring Program

This summer, NASW is offering an online virtual summer mentoring program for graduate and undergraduate students. The program is named for longtime science writer and past NASW president David Perlman. Dave, who died last year at the age of 101, only three years after his retirement from the San Francisco Chronicle, was a mentor to countless members of the science writing community and always made time for kind and supportive words, especially for early career writers.

Below are resources and material for participants. All participants must be members of NASW to be eligible for the program. Please visit nasw.org/join to apply. We have a special midyear introductory rate for new members. (Note that signing up to view content on nasw.org as a guest is not the same as joining NASW.)

Background, overview, and expectations

Given that schedules are more likely to be constrained this summer for mentors and students alike, the 2021 format will be amended to allow for less formal meet ups. During sign ups students will be invited to specify whether they wish to work with a mentor on a submission for the Student Newsroom or whether they would simply like the opportunity to meet with a mentor and ask questions. Those wishing to prepare a piece for publication in the Student Newsroom will be encouraged to watch archived video sessions and come prepared with one or more pitches to discuss with their mentor.

Students and mentors will get together for a ~75 min kickoff event on Tuesday, June 8 @ 1PM EDT. A large portion of this time will be dedicated to one on one meetings between mentors and students. Mentors and students will then mutually determine any future meetings or communications. Mentors of those students who choose to write a reported piece will be responsible for submitting the student’s work to the online portal no later than July 28.

Dates to put on your calendar

Mentors and students will meet virtually once over the summer for professional development discussions and to work on the assignment.

  • Tuesday, June 1: Deadline for students and mentors to sign up for the program. STUDENTS: Sign up here. MENTORS: Sign up here (Mentor expectations are here.)
  • Tuesday, June 8 at 1:00 PM EDT: All students and mentors are expected to attend the kickoff session. Please review the guidelines for online meetings.
  • Editing and revising will continue via email until July 28.
  • Wednesday, July 28: Deadline for mentors to submit student's piece online. Details and link to submit.
  • Optional event: Wednesday, June 16 1-2 p.m. EDT. A special #SciWriCoffee virtual social for students in the mentoring program. This is an optional event and will be an informal opportunity to meet other students in the program. How to join #SciWriCoffee

Writing assignment

For those students who opt to write a reported piece, your completed assignment will be due July 28 and will be submitted by your mentor. Find details of the writing assignment at nasw.org/WritingAssignment.

Completed assignments will be reviewed for publication on the NASW Student Newsroom, a new section of nasw.org that highlights student reporting projects.

NASW Student Summer Writing Award, 2021

All assignments completed by the deadline will be eligible for one of three recognition awards of $500 each. Recognition will be given to the three best submitted pieces, as judged by a panel of editors and writers. Stories will be judged on clarity, style, story structure, effective use of quotes and data, and diversity of sources. Use this as an incentive to do your best work!


Resources for students and mentors, including guidelines and links to video seminars and background reading can be found at nasw.org/PerlmanResources

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