News site highlights analysis by academic and research experts

As the news industry has struggled to redefine itself in recent years, it seems fair to say that the majority of the new approaches we’ve seen tested out have focused on incorporating the work and views of citizen reporters. A new online publication recently launched in Australia, however, takes quite a different tack by placing the spotlight on academic and research experts instead.

Now in beta, The Conversation bills itself as “an independent source of information, analysis and commentary from the university and research sector.” Rather than pursuing the traditional journalist’s goal of objective reporting, The Conversation aims instead to foster informed dialogue and debate by giving thought leaders in the academic and research communities a forum for their perspectives on big, central topics. A team of professional editors works with experts to ensure that content is accessible to a broad audience. With a heavy emphasis on creating trust, meanwhile, the site also pledges to ensure that all published reports make explicit the authors’ expertise, any potential conflicts of interest, and sources of funding. Current content partners include the Australian Group of Eight universities (Adelaide, ANU, Melbourne, Monash, NSW, Queensland, Sydney, Western Australia) plus the University of Technology at Sydney, CSIRO and the Australian Science Media Centre. The Conversation also plans to keep its forum uncluttered by eschewing pop-up and display advertising; rather, it will operate as a not-for-profit, educational and charitable organization.

Now that the content-creating masses have so many news outlets in which to have their say as citizen journalists, is it experts’ turn to take a leading role in the discussion? Time will tell. Either way, one to watch! (Related: CNN ‘Open Stories’ combine citizen journalism and professional reporting — Crowdfunding (and pitching) news stories — News site lets users pick stories & share in revenues.)




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