U of G Helps Spark ‘The Conversation Canada’

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The University of Guelph is a founding partner in a new national non-profit media network launching today that invites professors and researchers to write expert articles for distribution in Canada and internationally.

Articles for The Conversation Canada are written by researchers and academics and edited by experienced journalists. The articles are published online under Creative Commons, and are freely available to be republished.

“The Conversation is a wonderful platform for U of G researchers to share their innovative discoveries and provide perspectives based on their scholarly excellence,” said Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research), who is a long-time contributor to The Conversation.

U of G professor Robert Hanner authored one of the first articles featured. As part of a series marking the sesquicentennial of Confederation, The Conversation Canada asked scholars to imagine what our world will be like in 2167.  Hanner, an integrative biology professor and associate director of the Canadian Barcode of Life Network,  looks at how DNA barcoding will become part of our everyday life in the next century.

Since beginning in Australia in 2011, The Conversation network has expanded to several countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States. The network also runs a global site.

It works like this:

Faculty members and researchers from universities across the country submit expert news analyses or commentaries, either solicited or unsolicited. Network editors work with the author to hone submissions for a wide media audience.

Commentaries draw upon expertise and innovative research, and connect to current world events and topics.

U of G’s News Service office in the Department of Communications and Public Affairs will receive requests daily from The Conversation’s editorial team seeking authors for articles on specific subjects.

The News Service office will then contact U of G faculty experts to solicit articles.

U of G faculty members may also register as contributors to pitch articles directly to the network.

“The Conversation Canada is a vital addition to public discourse at a time when high-quality journalism is in demand and the for-profit media sector is in decline,” said Scott White, editor of the Canadian network. White was editor-in-chief of the Canadian Press for 16 years and was a vice-president with Postmedia Network.

“The interest and engagement from researchers across the country as word has spread that we preparing for launch has been amazing,” he said.

More than 30,000 academics already take part worldwide. The Conversation attracts 5.2 million users per month to its global site, and reaches 35 million people through Creative Commons republication.

More than 22,000 media outlets around the world use content from The Conversation, including Maclean’s, The Washington Post, The Guardian and Time magazine.

Canadian Press/La Presse Canadienne will distribute content from The Conversation Canada free on its news wire for republishing.

The Conversation Canada was founded by a group of 17 Canadian universities including U of G, along with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and Universities Canada.

Alfred Hermida and Mary Lynn Young, both University of British Columbia researchers and former journalists, received a SSHRC grant to found the network. More information here.

For more information, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, lhunt@uoguelph.ca, Ext. 53338; or Deirdre Healey, healeyd@uoguelph.ca, Ext. 56581.