“What is The Conversation?”
That was the question put to Alastair Campbell on a widely subscribed podcast called The Rest is Politics that he presents. The former British Prime Minister’s spokesperson had been championing our work.
I was delighted that he finds great value in the expertise we bring to the news cycle, but also that, when asked if The Conversation was “a blog”, he said no, apparently recognising that what is produced is cultivated and curated. The discussion also made me think about how we describe ourselves in our newsletters and onsite. “News by experts” is one succinct phrase we use that probably best outlines the unique nature of the content we produce with our university partners.
Going beyond that though, I think it’s worth pointing out, both to newcomers and regular readers of The Conversation, that all the content we publish involves the active intellectual and creative engagement of at least two professional editors. The ideas for the articles are influenced by, and often come from, those specialist editors, based around the world. They have knowledge of leading researchers and reach out to them daily for their thoughts on events, and information regarding upcoming academic publications that can form the basis of journalistic projects.
Sometimes those project are articles, reacting to rolling news. But The Conversation also generates news derived from often lengthy research projects, by pairing editors with those driving the studies as they are taking place. This can see academic research shaping news agendas across multiple media outlets, and informing policy regarding some of the key issues facing our planet today. A recent example of this was our focus on children born to UN peacekeeping forces in the DRC, which featured as a news package in The Times (London) last week. The article was the product of a years-long partnership with a group of academics.
The Conversation will produce more work of this type in the months ahead, committing editorial resources to producing content that not only illuminates, but drives debate and change. We hope you continue to value what we do, and, like Mr Campbell, tell friends and colleagues about it. One way of doing so, is by encouraging them to sign up for a free, trusted, accessible publication, that, “goes deeper” than many others.