Trust in experts has plummeted in recent years, in our ‘post-truth‘ era. Yet humanity’s most complex problems — from violent extremism to food security to climate change — will never be solved by late-night tweets or political isolationism. What seems to be the key are partnerships: particularly between researchers and media professionals.
All of which begs the question: how can experts reach the masses? How can they inform the public debate? And why is this important — especially in democracies? A session at this year’s Global Media Forum, held in Germany, set out to answer these questions. It explored how The Conversation Global (TCG) news network brings the insights of researchers to an audience of millions.
UNU’s Prof. Shyama V. Ramani was chosen from 50,000 contributors to share a stage with TCG’s Clea Chakraverty, commissioning editor, and Stephan Schmidt, audience developer. Together they explained how researchers and journalists can turn complex ideas into digestible articles — articles that regularly ‘go viral’ and reach tens of thousands of readers.
The scholar’s perspective
“On the other hand, the piece written in The Conversation — which contained the main results of about five articles [on innovation in sanitation] — was read by nearly 20,000 people… and not only by other academics but also policymakers, and for the first time it was read by my own family as well.
“Everybody could understand the results and what it meant for our economic evolution. And so for me that is a huge impact and totally unimagined. So I am very grateful to our communications team for asking me to write it.
“Ultimately, I think it is important that we academics get out of our ivory towers, and write and share more of what we are doing with mainstream audiences. Only then can we give ideas to others to build upon and achieve something really useful.”
See all of UNU’s work on TCG here.
The opinions expressed here are the author’s own; they do not necessarily reflect the views of UNU.
UNU / S.Brodin, H.Hudson