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Journalism + Academia = Better information

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Guest blog by Scott White, Editor, The Conversation Canada

There’s a sad irony facing society today: at a time when people need strong journalism more than ever, the business model of the legacy journalism industry is broken and may be beyond repair. In a world where “fake news” has found its way into the lexicon over the last year, how will Canadians get factual and important information they need to help them make informed decisions about significant issues in their lives?

One solution can be found in the world of academia. Consider the possibilities if academics, armed with years of knowledge, expertise and research relevant to many of today’s current events, could work with journalists to provide a new form of journalism.

That’s exactly the model for The Conversation Canada. I’m the new Editor of The Conversation Canada and we will be launching our new journalism startup later this spring.

The Conversation Canada is the sixth national edition of the global Conversation network. Since its launch in Australia in 2011, The Conversation has expanded to the UK, the US, France and Africa, as well as a global site. The network has more than 85 commissioning editors and nearly 50,000-plus academics registered as contributors, of whom more than 400 are based in Canada. Each article is written by scholars in their area of expertise, published under Creative Commons and freely available to be republished anywhere.

Dr. Alfred Hermida, director and associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism who has been working with his UBC colleague Dr. Mary Lynn Young for two years to bring The Conversation to Canada, recently described the project as “journalism that provides greater context and explanation for things that are happening in the news.”

Currently, The Conversation network attracts 4.8 million users worldwide per month, and reaches 35 million through Creative Commons republication. Over 22,000 media outlets use content from The Conversation, including The Washington Post, Maclean’s, Le Monde, The Guardian, Time Magazine and The Hindu.

These numbers continue to grow, and we are very excited to bring The Conversation to Canada. But we need your help.

Ideas for The Conversation Canada articles will work like this: academics can pitch articles to our newsroom or our editors will reach out directly to universities and registered authors to find a scholar with expertise on the topic we want covered. We will be providing articles on a wide range of subjects: science, health and medicine, education, technology, politics, arts and culture, economics, business, energy, environment and society.

Academics around the world have found writing for The Conversation is professionally rewarding. Articles aimed at a broader audience builds their profiles and means wider dissemination of their research. Authors also receive extensive metrics on how many readers view their articles, where it’s viewed and what publications republished The Conversation article under Creative Commons. And there are more reasons to write for The Conversation.

To be a lead author on an article, you must be a current researcher or academic. Associate, adjunct or honorary roles with universities can also write, as can undergraduate students or masters candidates if they are writing as a co-author with a current researcher or academic. You can register as an author now or contact us and we’ll do it for you

The Conversation Canada will be launching later in June – and that means we’re commissioning articles right now. So if you have an idea, please drop me a line – or better yet, attend our free workshops on How to Write for The Conversation Canada to be held Monday, May 29 from 12.30 to 2.00 p.m. in Room 183 of the Rogers Communications Centre at 80 Gould Street.

Scott White is the new Editor of The Conversation Canada. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of The Canadian Press, Canada’s national news service which provides multimedia content in English and French to hundreds of media outlets across the country. He has an MBA from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and is a graduate of the School of Journalism at Ryerson.

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