Love the site; love the explainers.
Love how it is funded; love how it taps into the structure of the Australian academic system.
From Nieman Journalism Lab:The Conversation, the startup Australian news site, wants to bring academic expertise to breaking news
Jaspan’s backers come from both the nonprofit and for-profit realms. The Conversation is backed by Ernst & Young, among other corporate supporters. And from academia, he has drawn on some of the top Australian research universities, in addition to Australia’s Department of Education. To find the academics, Jaspan and his staff did a “census” of academics based on their areas of expertise. Then, by word of mouth, they asked participating academics to recommend colleagues who would make good contributors to the site.
Immediacy and impact
But, again, the skeptical academic in me had another question: Why on earth would a busy academic take time away from publishing (ahem) to write for The Conversation?
Part of the answer has to do with Australia’s current approach to university promotion. Research and teaching form part of the core methods of evaluation, but a third arm of assessment is an academic’s quality of public engagement and social impact. According to Jaspan, Australian universities are putting a new stress on the third.