On the ground

On the ground

Organisation: The Conversation (Australia)

Publication Date: 03/02/2018


On The Ground is an international database that connects journalists with academic experts who have deep knowledge of and relationships with people in local communities. These may be communities based around location, ethnicity, interest, experience or needs. (Just for example.) Journalists have never been under more pressure. Newsrooms are under-resourced. Regional news outlets and community media organisations are being decimated. The people most affected by this are the communities whose voices are not being heard. Some of these voices have never been heard. Building relationships based on trust takes time. And it often means being on the ground. Journalists have increasingly few opportunities to take the time to build these vital relationships in the current media environment. In the academic world, things are different. Academics DO have the time and resources, and they ARE on the ground, making deep relationships in local communities. These relationships inform their research, and in turn, assist those communities. We can help journalists make connections with those communities. The Conversation has an international database of 63,000 registered academic experts. Academic author profiles provide the expert’s name, title, field of research, location, areas of interest, articles published on The Conversation, and contact details. On The Ground builds on this database. Verified journalists can search the database to discover which researchers have deep relationships within specific communities, and which researchers are willing to share those contacts. This morning, we explained this concept to four academic experts who have written for The Conversation in Australia. Each has deep relationships in their communities, for example: Chinese-Australian communities, Indian-Australian communities, people in the Middle East, people in Australia with disabilities, and domestic violence victims within specific communities. Each of these experts was enthusiastic about On The Ground, and agreed they would be involved. Each agreed there are too many voices from local communities going unheard, and this project would be a positive and effective development in resolving this problem. The Conversation is a not-for-profit international media organisation with bureaus in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Africa, France (French language service), Indonesia (Bahasa Indonesia language service), Canada and New Zealand. The Conversation publishes under Creative Commons, which means any media organisation can republish any of our content anywhere, for free. We believe in the free flow of information, and we believe in sharing high quality information, and we believe in making sure everyone's story is heard. Helping make connections between journalists, experts, and local community members is a natural extension of our mission.

Technologies used for this project:

We wanted to extend the functionality on The Conversation's Expert Search page (https://theconversation.com/experts). Unfortunately, we didn't have the source code to this page, but we were still able to rebuild the new search function using a Javascript library called React. The prototype uses live data, with the help of https://crossorigin.me/.


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