Innovative Journalism in Australia
I have an article up at a very interesting new endeavor here in Australia, called The Conversation. This is an impressive effort to combine university expertise with competent journalism, through a very well-engineered online system. The Conversation is jointly funded by a group of universities, the CSIRO, and some private supporters. The core staff, as I understand it, is made up of journalists and communications experts, who work on stories with academics.
At this point, it appears that anyone affiliated with one of the participating institutions can create an “author profile” and pitch stories to one of the thirteen editors on staff, who then help them frame and write it in an engaging way.
There seem to be a lot of advantages to this. It is very well-integrated with existing social media, so the potential for wide publicity is very high. And that system is bringing attention to academic debates in an engaging way, often directly relevant to current events. This doesn’t feel like a university communications office, with a central mission of promoting a single institution. Instead it is promoting academic ideas and open discourse. Publicity for the supporting institutions probably comes along with it, but that outcome is secondary.
I had a really positive experience learning how to use this system and working with the staff at the Conversation. Anyone lucky enough to be at one of the participating institutions should start up an account and pitch a story.