The Conversation (website)

The Conversation is a network of not-for-profit media outlets that publish news stories written by academics and researchers.

The Conversation
Type of businessNot-for-profit
Type of site
Analysis, commentary, research, news
Available inEnglish, French, Spanish, Bahasa Indonesia
FoundedApril 2010 (2010-04)
Alexa rank 3,314 (as of 18 November 2019)[1]
Launched24 March 2011 (2011-03-24)
Current statusActive

Its first launched in Australia in March 2011,[2] and has expanded into editions in the United Kingdom in 2013,[3] United States in 2014,[4] Africa[5] and France in 2015,[6] Canada in 2017,[7] Indonesia in 2017,[8] and Spain in 2018.[9] The Conversation publishes all content under a Creative Commons license and, as of September 2019, reported a monthly online audience of 10.7 million users onsite, and a combined reach of 40 million people including republication.[10]

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.


The Conversation was co-founded by Andrew Jaspan and Jack Rejtman.[11]

Jaspan first discussed the concept of The Conversation between 2004 and 2008 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.[12]

After securing funding from Melbourne University and the Victorian State Government, The Conversation Media Group opened its Carlton office in November 2010 with a small team of professional editors and developers, and launched to the public in March 2011.

Operating Model

All of articles that appear on The Conversation are written by academics, based on their area of research. The Conversation’s editors commission and edit these articles to make sure that they are free of jargon and accessible to a wide audience.

The stories published cover topics from politics and culture to health, science and the environment.[13] All stories are published under a Creative Commons — Attribution/No derivatives license[14] and as a result are widely republished by news outlets from the ABC to the Daily Mail, 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[15]
United Kingdom 2013 Stephen Khan Chris Waiting (CEO) 23[16]
United States 2014 Beth Daley Bruce Wilson (Chief Innovation and Development Officer) 17[17]
Africa 2015 Caroline Southey Alexandra Storey (General Manager) 13[18]
France 2015 Fabrice Rousselot Caroline Nourry (Directrice générale) 12[19]
Canada 2017 Scott White 9[20]
Indoniesia 2017 Prodita Sabarini 7[21]
Spain 2018 Rafael Sarralde Miguel Castro (Secretario general) 8[22]

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.[23]

The Conversation UK

The Conversation 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[24]. In April 2018, it appointed former BBC and AP executive Chris Waiting as its new CEO.[25]

The Conversation US

The U.S. edition of The Conversation was first published on 21 October 2014[26] initially led by Andrew 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.[27]

Departure of Andrew Jaspan

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.[28] Management of the UK, US 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.[29]

Since April 2017, Jaspan has been establishing new media platform The Global Academy, a partnership between universities of Deakin, Melbourne, RMIT and Western Sydney.


In 2016, The Conversation's FactCheck unit become the first fact-checking team in Australia and one of only two worldwide accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network, which is an alliance of fact-checkers hosted at the Poynter Institute in the U.S.[30] The only other fact-checking team accredited under this process is The Washington Post's Fact Checker. The assessment criteria require non-partisanship, fairness, transparency of funding, sources and methods, and a commitment to open and honest corrections.[31]


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.[32]


  1. " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  2. 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.
  3. "Creating journalism from academia: a pilot project". BBC. 4 June 2013. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  4. "Nocookies". The Australian. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  5. "The Conversation to launch in Africa with funding from Bill Gates foundation - mUmBRELLA". Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  6. Delcambre, Alexis. "The Conversation se lance en français". Le Monde (in French). ISSN 1950-6244. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  7. Ketchell, Misha. "The Conversation launches in Canada". The Conversation. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  8. Ketchell, Misha (6 September 2017). "The Conversation launches in Indonesia". The Conversation. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  9. Puyol, Rafael. "Una conversación necesaria". The Conversation. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  10. Dickinson, Debbie. "Behind the scenes: creative commons publishing". The Conversation. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  11. Carney, Shaun (26 March 2011). "Look who's contributing to the conversation". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 27 September 2019.
  12. "Who We Are". The Conversation Australia. The Conversation Media Group. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
  13. "The Conversation: In-depth analysis, research, news and ideas from leading academics and researchers". The Conversation. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  14. "Republishing guidelines — The Conversation". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  15. "Our Team: The Conversation". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  16. "Our Team: The Conversation". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  17. "Our Team: The Conversation". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  18. "Our Team: The Conversation". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  19. "Notre équipe : The Conversation". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  20. "Our Team: The Conversation". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  21. "Tim kami: The Conversation". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  22. "Nuestro Equipo: The Conversation". Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  23. Waiting, Chris. "A new home for The Conversation". The Conversation. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  24. Waiting, Chris. "A new home for The Conversation". The Conversation. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  25. Hall, Georgina. "Chris Waiting appointed as Chief Executive of The Conversation Trust (UK)". The Conversation. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  26. Jaspan, Andrew. "The Conversation US joins global network". The Conversation. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  27. Daley, Beth. "A letter from Beth Daley". The Conversation. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  28. Meade, Amanda (31 March 2017). "Andrew Jaspan quits the Conversation after months of turmoil". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
  29. 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.
  30. Creagh, Sunanda. "The Conversation's FactCheck granted accreditation by International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter". The Conversation. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  31. "International Fact Check Network code of principles".
  32. Trounson, Andrew (28 March 2011). "Getting the message out". The Australian. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
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