It’s academic: engaging the university community

Dalhousie

A few people have confused this blog with my soon-to-be-launched news website. But they are two different things. This blog is a platform for discussing some issues in journalism, for introducing myself to a wider audience, and for keeping myself writing while I do the behind-the-scenes work necessary to launch the new site, which will be a completely different website, with its own name, URL, and design. Most of my time right now is spent tinkering with the back end of the new site, firming up the business end of things, talking with lawyers and so forth.

I’m not yet revealing the name of the new site (suspense!), but it won’t look like this blog at all, and more important, it will have an entirely different focus. While from time to time I’ll write opinion pieces, I won’t much talk about myself, and the main focus of the site will be on news and analysis, with periodic in-depth investigative pieces.

Something else I want to address is the failure of local media, myself included, in providing depth to their coverage of what’s happening on the university campuses in Halifax. The six universities have about 30,000 students, several thousand full-time faculty and an uncountable (by me anyway) number of part-timers, along with all the non-academic support staff. Collectively, the universities are without question the largest institution in Halifax, and so are of enormous importance. Yet, media coverage is mostly limited to covering the occasional labour dispute and re-writing a few campus PR machine press releases. Some of the best reporting on campus issues, it should be noted, comes from the student newspapers, but that work is rarely picked up by off-campus media outlets.

I want to better engage with the universities. That will mean stepped-up coverage of internal campus issues, and also simply reporting what academics are up to. We have all these thousands of academics working on a broad range of issues, and yet hardly anyone in the community knows what they’re up to. The new site will regularly report on them.

But it should be a two-way street. Academics are public employees, and have some responsibility to serve the general public. Moreover, the political atmosphere is in danger of tipping into an American style anti-intellectualism, so I think it would serve academics’ own interests to be more engaged, to explain why their work is relevant and important. That’s why I’m looking for academics to write for my new site. 

If you are an academic doing work you’d like to present to a lay audience, please contact me at timbousquet@yahoo.com, and we can discuss the details privately.

This is one in a series of blog posts discussing issues in journalism and introducing my online news site. If you’d like to receive an email notification and link to these blog posts, please send an email to timbousquet@yahoo.com with “update me” in the subject field.

The series so far:

I’m starting an online news site 

Advertorial: an unnecessary evil

Why we need a subscription-based news outlet

Chasing web hits: media rope-a-dope leads to dumbed-down content

Why comment sections are the cesspool of the internet, and what I’m going to do about it

Real journalism is adversarial journalism

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