|Type of business||Not-for-profit|
Type of site
|Analysis, commentary, research, news|
|Available in||English, French, Spanish, Indonesian|
|Launched||24 March 2011|
The Conversation is a network of not-for-profit media outlets that publish news stories on the Internet that are written by academics and researchers, under a free Creative Commons licence, allowing reuse but only without modification.
It first launched in Australia in March 2011, and has expanded into editions in the United Kingdom in 2013, United States in 2014, Africa and France in 2015, Canada in 2017, Indonesia in 2017, and Spain in 2018. In September 2019, The Conversation reported a monthly online audience of 10.7 million users onsite, and a combined reach of 40 million people including republication.
Each edition of The Conversation is an independent not-for-profit or charity funded by its university members, government and other grant awarding bodies, corporate partners, and reader donations.
Jaspan first discussed the concept of The Conversation in 2009 with Glyn Davis, vice-chancellor at The University of Melbourne. Jaspan wrote a report on the university's engagement with the public, envisioning the university as "a giant newsroom", with the academics and researchers collectively providing authoritative and informed content that engaged with the news cycle and major current affairs issues. That became the blueprint for The Conversation.
Jaspan secured $10m launch funding over three years from four universities (Melbourne, Monash, Australian National University, University of Western Australia) and CSIRO, the Victorian State Government, the Australian Federal Government, and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. The Conversation Media Group opened its Carlton office in November 2010 with Jaspan as editor and a small team of professional editors and developers. The service launched to the public in March 2011.
The Conversation articles are written by academics, based on their area of research. The Conversation editors commission and edit these articles, with stated aims of no jargon and accessibility to a wide audience. Topics include politics, culture, health, science, and the environment. All stories are published under a Creative Commons Attribution/No derivatives licence, and as a result, are widely republished by news outlets from the ABC to the Daily Mail, and from Le Monde to the Washington Post.
From its first Melbourne-headquartered Australian edition, The Conversation has expanded to a global network of eight editions, operating in multiple languages.
|Edition||Year of Launch||Editor||Management||Number of Editors|
|Australia||2011||Misha Ketchell||Lisa Watts (CEO)||24|
|United Kingdom||2013||Stephen Khan||Chris Waiting (CEO)||23|
|United States||2014||Beth Daley||Bruce Wilson (Chief Innovation and Development Officer)||17|
|Africa||2015||Caroline Southey||Alexandra Storey (General Manager)||13|
|France||2015||Fabrice Rousselot||Caroline Nourry (Directrice générale)||12|
|Spain||2018||Rafael Sarralde||Miguel Castro (Secretario general)||8|
Across the whole network, stories commissioned by The Conversation are now republished in 90 countries, in 23 languages, and read more than 40m times a month.
Andrew Jaspan secured seed funding to develop the case to launch The Conversation into the UK in 2012. It launched in the UK on 16 May 2013 with Jonathan Hyams as chief executive, Stephen Khan as editor and Max Landry as chief operating officer, alongside co-founder, Andrew Jaspan. It had 13 founder members, including City, University of London. City's president, Professor Sir Paul Curran chaired its board of trustees. Landry took over from Hyams as chief executive shortly after launch.
Membership grew to more than 80 universities in the UK and Europe, including Cambridge, Oxford, and Trinity College Dublin. By 2019 it had published 24,000 articles written by 14,000 academics. In April 2018, it appointed former BBC and AP executive Chris Waiting as its new CEO.
Andrew Jaspan was invited in 2012 to bring The Conversation to the United States. Thomas Fiedler, then dean of the School of Communications at Boston University, offered to host The Conversation U.S. and provide space for the first newsroom. With a university base established, he was able to raise the $2.3m launch funding. The U.S. edition of The Conversation was first published on 21 October 2014, initially led by Jaspan as U.S. CEO, Margaret Drain as editor, and Bruce Wilson leading development and university relations. The U.S. pilot was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and four other foundations. Beth Daley was appointed editor and general manager in March 2019, when Maria Balinska moved to the US-UK Fulbright Commission.
In March 2017, Andrew Jaspan resigned as executive director and editor, six months after being placed on enforced leave after complaints from senior staff in Melbourne about his management style and the global direction of the group. Management of the UK, U.S., and Africa offices also wrote a letter of no confidence to the Conversation Media Group asking that Jaspan not have an active role in the future.
Since April 2017, Jaspan has been establishing new media platform The Global Academy, initially a partnership between universities of Deakin, Melbourne, RMIT, and Western Sydney. It is now solely hosted by Monash University.
In 2016, the FactCheck unit of The Conversation became the first fact-checking team in Australia and one of only two worldwide units accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network, which is an alliance of fact-checkers hosted at the Poynter Institute in the U.S. The only other fact-checking team accredited under this process is The Washington Post Fact Checker. The assessment criteria require non-partisanship, fairness, transparency of funding, sources, and methods, and a commitment to open and honest corrections.
The Conversation uses a custom publishing and content management system built in Ruby on Rails. The system enables contributors to collaborate on articles in real time. Articles link to author profiles--including disclosure statements--and personal dashboards show authors' engagement with the public.