UBC journalism professors have been awarded just under $50,000 to pursue a partnership with The Conversation to bring its unique model of collaboration between academics and editors to Canada.
Faculty members from the Graduate School of Journalism will work with the Melbourne-based independent media organization to develop The Conversation Canada as the latest in the global network of websites. Since its 2011 launch in Australia, The Conversation has expanded to the UK, the US and Africa.
The Conversation makes analysis and commentary from the academic and research community more widely accessible to the public as professional editors work with scholars to produce engaging and rigorous content. Each site provides content appropriate to its national audience, operating under license from The Conversation Media Group.
UBC researchers and former journalists, Alfred Hermida and Mary Lynn Young, are the principal investigators on the $49,000 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Connections Grant.
Other researchers involved in the project include two other UBC Journalism faculty, assistant professor Candis Callison and assistant professor Taylor Owen, as well as Minelle Mahtani, associate professor, University of Toronto. All have journalism experience in either mainstream media and/or startups.
Engaging and rigorous
The SSHRC funds will help to set up an alpha version of The Conversation Canada over the next six months. The site will serve as a proof of concept to approach potential partner universities, raise funds and encourage more Canadian academic contributors, with the aim of eventually launching The Conversation Canada.
“Canada’s highly ranked universities and researchers are ideally positioned to meet the public need for informed and knowledgeable journalism, especially at a time of cutbacks in mainstream media,” said Hermida, UBC Journalism Director and Associate Professor. “The Conversation is a proven model of unlocking academic knowledge and making it accessible to the public.”
Andrew Jaspan, Executive Director and Editor, The Conversation said: “I am delighted to be working with UBC’s Alfred and Mary Lynn to bring The Conversation to Canada. We have wanted to do this for a while so my thanks go to the SSHRC for making it possible to get started.”
Almost 200 Canadian scholars have already contributed to The Conversation’s global network. The content is published under Creative Commons and is freely available to republished.
The Conversation currently has more than 70 staff based in Australia, the US, the UK and South Africa working with more than 24,000 scholars and researchers from more than 1,200 institutions from across the world.