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The Conversation is a popular Australian online news site that uses academics to cover breaking news and analyze current debates. The idea behind the model is to team up university researchers, who know a lot about many things but can’t necessarily write for a mainstream audience, with editors, who can. The combination of “academic rigour with journalistic flair” (the site’s slogan) has proved a roaring success and The Conversation now attracts nearly 20 million reads a month.
Largely funded by partner universities, the articles are free to read, there are no limits to the number of articles people can read and there is no advertising. In an interesting twist, articles are also free to republish under a Creative Commons license. And in an era where news organizations are continually slashing budgets and laying off staff, the not-for-profit has managed to export its model beyond Australia’s shores to the United Kingdom and the United States.
OnMedia spoke with The Conversation’s founder, Andrew Jaspan.