The Conversation has launched a new Coronavirus Insights team with support from Research England, alongside a new content partnership with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The project will allow The Conversation to cover more new research on the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, publishing expert insights for the general public sourced from the academic community.
The project will see two special editors – Megan Clement (The Conversation, News Deeply), and Rob Reddick (Wellcome Trust Mosaic) – engaged for an initial period of six months, alongside a new digital audience manager. They are working closely with the existing Insights team, identifying research and publishing resulting journalism in conjunction with other media partners, which have included the BBC, The Times and Buzzfeed.
As the UK government announces an accelerated £100 million in Quality-related Research (QR) funding for universities, being able to tell the public about research will be vital. The Conversation aims to champion the public’s understanding of research and to help universities and researchers share knowledge that is engaging and accessible.
Recent, unprecedented events have shown just how much experts contribute – especially in times of crisis. The Conversation’s newsroom of editors works with academics to provide evidence-based, trustworthy content. Interest in its articles during the coronavirus has grown, with a record 52 million visits to UK content and over 250 million globally in the last three months.
Dedicated coverage of the coronavirus pandemic includes a weekly round-up from Conversation newsrooms across the globe, and a new podcast on the theme of rebuilding, looking towards a post-pandemic world.
Stephen Khan, Editor, said: “I’m thrilled we are deepening our relationship with Research England and UKRI to strengthen the independent editorial output of The Conversation.
"At the heart of Conversation content is excellent research. This latest investment has allowed us to appoint two top editors, who are already working with researchers to create first class journalism.
"The Insights stream of content that RE has already supported allows The Conversation to commit resources to create strong narratives and dig out illuminating revelations working in partnership with academics. That content is then made available free of charge to the world’s media.”
Chris Waiting, Chief Executive, said: “This partnership with Research England and UKRI underscores the central role The Conversation plays in bringing the work of UK-based academics to the public. At a time when the public is hungry for experts, we allow them to write in their own words, engaging with millions of readers across the globe.”
David Sweeney, Executive Chair of Research England said: “I am delighted that Research England has been able to support The Conversation in expanding its coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. Since early January, The Conversation has worked with UK-based researchers to produce crucial news analysis and invaluable explanations for the general public at a time of great uncertainty and unease. "Now, through its partnership with Research England and UKRI, even more academics are able to work with The Conversation, channelling their knowledge to the general public in the midst of this public health crisis.
"The Conversation is a vital pillar for universities seeking to build a strategy that exhibits their research excellence while linking them to local and international communities beyond academia.”