The primary interface between academia and the media is the university press office. Press relations officers – often former journalists – are tasked with repackaging academic research into bite-sized chunks that can be fed whole to hungry reporters. Their goal is both to disseminate knowledge and to increase the university’s profile among the public and, most importantly, funders and potential students.
So what could be done to rectify the situation? One option is to create a platform, most likely a website, that is staffed by experienced journalists but dedicated solely to publishing academic work. This approach is currently being pioneered in Australia, where The Conversation site, funded by universities, government and the private sector, was set up in the spring. On The Conversation, a team of about 20 journalists – led by Andrew Jaspan, former editor of The Observer – curate, commission and edit research, analysis and opinion from academics on everything from current affairs to the environment.
and what about this bit…
Although the cost of creating such a forum – even if it is hosted only on the web – may not be insignificant, the benefits are potentially enormous, as the success of a small blog set up last year by the University of Nottingham’s politics department attests. Written by staff and postgraduate students, the Election 2010 blog, which ran for five months, was estimated to have generated coverage for the university worth more than £4 million.
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