The Conversation (website)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Conversation
The Conversation website text logo.svg
Type of businessNot-for-profit
Type of site
Analysis, commentary, research, news
Available inEnglish, French, Spanish, Indonesian
FoundedApril 2010 (2010-04)
Melbourne, Australia
Launched24 March 2011; 10 years ago (2011-03-24)
Current statusActive
Content license
CC Attribution / No derivatives 4.0

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,[1] and has expanded into editions in the United Kingdom in 2013,[2] United States in 2014,[3] Africa[4] and France[5] in 2015, Canada in 2017,[6] Indonesia in 2017,[7] and Spain in 2018.[8] 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.[9]

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.

Operating model[edit]


The Conversation articles are written by academics, based on their area of research. The Conversation's editors commission and edit these articles, with stated aims of no jargon and accessibility to a wide audience.[citation needed] Topics include politics, culture, health, science, and the environment.[10] All stories are published under a Creative Commons Attribution/No derivatives licence.[11] The site operates as a not-for-profit, supported by collaborative frameworks for academic institutions.


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.[12] The assessment criteria require non-partisanship, fairness, transparency of funding, sources, and methods, and a commitment to open and honest corrections.[13]


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.[14]



The Conversation was co-founded by Andrew Jaspan and Jack Rejtman,[15] and first launched in Australia.

Jaspan first discussed the concept of The Conversation in 2009 with Glyn Davis, vice-chancellor at The University of Melbourne. Jaspan wrote a report for the university's communications department 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.[16] That became the blueprint for The Conversation.

Jaspan and Rejtman were provided with office and support from Melbourne University's VP Marketing & Communications Pat Freeland-Small from mid 2009, to work up their business model. By February 2010 they had developed the model, their branding and business identity which they launched to potential support partners by way of an Information Memorandum in February 2010.[17]

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.

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[18]
United Kingdom 2013 Stephen Khan Chris Waiting (CEO) 23[19]
United States 2014 Beth Daley Bruce Wilson (Chief Innovation and Development Officer) 17[20]
Africa 2015 Caroline Southey Alexandra Storey (General Manager) 13[21]
France 2015 Fabrice Rousselot Caroline Nourry (Directrice générale) 12[22]
Canada 2017 Scott White 9[23]
Indonesia 2017 Prodita Sabarini 7[24]
Spain 2018 Rafael Sarralde Miguel Castro (Secretario general) 8[25]

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.[26]

The Conversation UK[edit]

Andrew Jaspan secured seed funding to develop the case to launch The Conversation into the UK in 2012.[27] 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.[28] In April 2018, it appointed former BBC and AP executive Chris Waiting as its new CEO.[29]

The Conversation U.S.[edit]

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,[30] 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.[31]

Departure of Andrew Jaspan[edit]

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.[32] 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.[33]

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.


  1. ^ Roy Greenslade (25 March 2011). "Jaspan is an editor for the eighth time with his new Aussie start-up". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  2. ^ "Creating journalism from academia: a pilot project". BBC. 4 June 2013. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  3. ^ "Nocookies". The Australian. Retrieved 12 April 2017.[dead link]
  4. ^ Hayes, Alex (1 April 2015). "The Conversation to launch in Africa with funding from Bill Gates foundation". Mumbrella. Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  5. ^ Delcambre, Alexis (19 September 2015). "The Conversation se lance en français". Le Monde (in French). Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  6. ^ Ketchell, Misha. "The Conversation launches in Canada". The Conversation. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  7. ^ Ketchell, Misha (6 September 2017). "The Conversation launches in Indonesia". The Conversation. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  8. ^ Puyol, Rafael. "Una conversación necesaria". The Conversation. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  9. ^ Dickinson, Debbie. "Behind the scenes: creative commons publishing". The Conversation. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  10. ^ "The Conversation: In-depth analysis, research, news and ideas from leading academics and researchers". The Conversation. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  11. ^ "Republishing guidelines — The Conversation". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  12. ^ Creagh, Sunanda. "The Conversation's FactCheck granted accreditation by International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter". The Conversation. Retrieved 26 June 2017.[better source needed]
  13. ^ "International Fact Check Network code of principles".
  14. ^ Trounson, Andrew (28 March 2011). "Getting the message out". The Australian. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
  15. ^ Carney, Shaun (26 March 2011). "Look who's contributing to the conversation". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 September 2019.
  16. ^ "Who We Are". The Conversation Australia. The Conversation Media Group. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  17. ^ "The Conversation Launch". The Conversation. Jaspan and Rejtman. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
  18. ^ "Our Team: The Conversation". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  19. ^ "Our Team: The Conversation". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  20. ^ "Our Team: The Conversation". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  21. ^ "Our Team: The Conversation". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  22. ^ "Notre équipe : The Conversation". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  23. ^ "Our Team: The Conversation". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  24. ^ "Tim kami: The Conversation". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  25. ^ "Nuestro Equipo: The Conversation". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  26. ^ Waiting, Chris. "A new home for The Conversation". The Conversation. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  27. ^ "Andrew Jaspan's The Conversation is making news without a profit". 22 May 2013. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  28. ^ Waiting, Chris. "A new home for The Conversation". The Conversation. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  29. ^ Hall, Georgina. "Chris Waiting appointed as Chief Executive of The Conversation Trust (UK)". The Conversation. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  30. ^ Jaspan, Andrew. "The Conversation US joins global network". The Conversation. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  31. ^ Daley, Beth. "A letter from Beth Daley". The Conversation. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  32. ^ Meade, Amanda (31 March 2017). "Andrew Jaspan quits the Conversation after months of turmoil". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  33. ^ Meade, Amanda (21 December 2016). "The Conversation's chairman resigns amid standoff over future of Andrew Jaspan". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 18 November 2019.

External links[edit]