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Survey says: Our readers value informative, independent voices

More newspapers closed in Canada in 2019 — the last year of a decade that will be remembered for the seismic shifts in the journalism landscape across the country and around the world. And while traditional media has struggled to adapt to this different landscape, the 2010s saw rise to many new, innovative and successful journalism organizations. We are one of them.

The Conversation started in Australia in 2011, a unique model that brought together academics and journalists to provide the public with expert-based analysis and explanatory journalism. From Australia, the model spread around the world to the United Kingdom, France, South Africa, the United States, Indonesia, Spain, New Zealand and, in mid-2017, to Canada. More than 40 million people around the world read articles from The Conversation network each month. In the past year, French and English articles from The Conversation Canada have been viewed almost 25 million times.

Earlier this year, we asked our readers for some feedback. In conjunction with the University of British Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, The Conversation Canada conducted its first readers survey. About 1,000 people took the time to respond and the results were very encouraging.

Our readers value The Conversation Canada not only for its academic expertise, but because we have no commercial agenda and are seen as being an independent voice at a time when other media are perceived as partisan.

“I find the articles to be informative and also offer different perspectives that those in the mainstream media,” said one survey respondent. Another added:

“Pick your superlatives: eclectic, fresh, infuriating, authoritative. All apply and draw me to what you publish every day.”

We also surveyed our authors. One of the most interesting findings is that publishing with The Conversation is a great way for academics to expose their research and expertise to other media outlets as well. About 60 per cent of our authors are contacted by newspapers, radio, TV or other media as a result of publishing with us.

If we were a traditional for-profit journalism company, we might resent other media “stealing” our content. But as a not-for-profit organization that publishes all of its articles under a Creative Commons licence, when other media publish our work or interview our authors, it extends our mission of democratizing knowledge.

The feedback from our authors was also uplifting. One told us that publishing with The Conversation “is an outstanding way to translate research and theories that often only circulate among a small number of academics to a much larger and more popular audience. I see this as central to the role of the university.”

We thank everyone who took part in our survey, but more importantly, we thank all of our readers. This new media landscape has provided you with an unlimited number of places to park your eyeballs. The fact that millions of you are choosing to spend some time with us is much appreciated by our authors and our editorial team.

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