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From the Editors

How The Conversation’s journalism made a difference in December and January


Every month, we ask The Conversation authors what happened after we published their articles. Here are some of their stories from December 2020 and January 2021.

Ensuring governments listen to the evidence

After Murdoch University’s Lorraine Finlay wrote Think the dual citizenship saga does not affect state parliamentarians? It might be time to think again, the Standing Committee on Procedure and Privileges in the West Australian parliament called an inquiry into the issues raised by The Conversation’s article and have recommended that state constitutional amendments be introduced.

After University of Sydney’s Leanne Cutcher and Swinburne University’s Graham Dyer wrote ‘I can still picture the faces’: Black Saturday firefighters want you to listen to them, not call them ‘heroes’, Graham was invited by the Country Fire Authority to give feedback to the emergency management sector. Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning also used the article as a basis to support an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant.

Black Saturday firefighters battling flames in Victoria. AAP/Andrew Brownbill

After University of Sydney’s Michelle Villeneuve wrote ‘Nobody checked on us’: what people with disability told us about their experiences of disasters and emergencies, she was invited to meet with the New South Wales Ministry for Families Community and Disability’s Deputy Chief.

After University of Melbourne’s Timothy O’Leary and University of South Australia’s David Michael Whaley wrote Solar panel fire season is all year round and it’s getting more intense in Australia, the authors were were contacted by PVStop, the manufacturers and distributors of a fire suppression system for solar panels. Timothy was also contacted by a representative of the Victorian Building Authority regarding a comparative analysis of solar system fire incidences in Victoria.

Injecting academic expertise into media coverage

After QUT’s Gary Mortimer co-wrote Feeling pressured to buy Christmas presents? Read this (and think twice before buying candles), he was interviewed on Nine News Queensland about the impact of unwanted Christmas gifts.

After Gary co-wrote How COVID all but killed the Australian CBD, he was interviewed again by Channel Nine’s Today Show on the downturn in foot traffic in CBDs around Australia during the Boxing Day sales.

After UNSW’s James Dunn co-wrote Are you among Australia’s best facial super-recognisers? Take our test to find out, he was interviewed by many television, radio and print outlets including Channel 10, ABC Radio National, ABC News, ABC Sydney, ABC Gold Coast, ABC Perth, ABC Newcastle, Triple J, ABC Brisbane, ABC Perth, 6PR Radio, CBC Radio, ABC Illawarra, Radio New Zealand, ABC South Coast, ABC Darwin, Popular Mechanics and Scientific American.

After Flinders University’s Giselle Bastin wrote The Crown season 4 review: a triumphant portrait of the 1980s with a perfectly wide-eyed Diana, she emailed our editors:

“…this morning I received another ABC radio request to talk about my review of series 4 of The Crown. That will be my third interview stemming from that one piece I wrote for The Conversation. People certainly take note of The Conversation, don’t they?!”

After Curtin University’s Tama Leaver wrote Web’s inventor says news media bargaining code could break the internet. He’s right — but there’s a fix, he was quoted in the New York Times. The article was republished by media outlets across the world including Silicon Republic (Ireland), Flipboard (USA), The Quint (India) and ArtsHub.

Spreading knowledge from the Pilbara to Singapore and beyond

After University of Queensland’s Deanna Kemp, John Owen and Rodger Barnes wrote Juukan Gorge inquiry puts Rio Tinto on notice, but without drastic reforms, it could happen again, the authors received numerous media enquiries. They did a radio package for ABC Radio Perth and were quoted in Al Jazeera. Several mining executives contacted them to discuss aspects of the Joint Standing Committee’s interim report. Academic colleagues, civil society groups and several Indigenous groups also made contact.

“We are very grateful for the opportunity to work with Justin Bergman (The Conversation’s Deputy Politics + Society Editor)”, said Deanna Kemp. “The editors at The Conversation work so hard to ensure that the material is tailored to a mainstream audience!”

After Flinders University’s Alice Gorman wrote A sports car and a glitter ball are now in space – what does that say about us as humans?, the article was cited in the Wikipedia entries for the Humanity Star and Elon Musk’s red Tesla sports car.

When Edith Cowan University’s Roberto Musotto and University of Leeds’s David S. Wall co-wrote Nothing like the mafia: cybercriminals are much like the everyday, poorly paid business worker, to coincide with the publication of a paper in the journal Trends in Organised Crime, they found The Conversation article helped increase the journal article’s Altmetric score. In fact, it is currently in the top five most popular articles ever published in that journal, in just a month since publication!

After Bond University’s Libby Sander, Lotti Tajouri and Rashed Alghafri wrote Get a proper chair, don’t eat at your desk, and no phones in the loo - how to keep your home workspace safe and hygienic, Libby was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal on unhygienic and unhealthy things people do when working from home. The article has been republished by over 10 other global news outlets including Channel News Asia. More than half of the article’s nearly 50,000 readers are from Singapore. She also recently passed 2 million reads on all her articles for The Conversation!

Western Sydney University’s Ray Norris’s article ‘WTF?’: newly discovered ghostly circles in the sky can’t be explained by current theories, and astronomers are excited has been read more than 460,000 times so far, with 90% of readers from outside Australia. The article has been republished by more than 20 other media outlets including Stuff, Live Science, Science Alert, Popular Science and It has also been shared on Facebook more than 7,000 times. Norris was also interviewed by BBC World Service, BBC Radio Drive and IFLScience.

After Telethon Kids Institute’s Asha Bowen and University of Sydney’s Archana Koirala co-wrote Coronavirus: is it safe for kids to go back to school? And what about the new mutant strain?, they were interviewed for an SBS podcast, which is slated to be translated into over 60 languages.

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