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A new kind of academic journalism

March 12, 2010

It’s easy to lay out a persuasive argument about why the journalists working in universities should be working on real journalism, using their industry skills honed through teaching, to do excellent investigative journalism. The commercial media is struggling to fund this kind of journalism and yet it is widely accepted that a free and vigilant press is cornerstone of a healthy democracy.

With the protection of academic freedom built into the university system this would not be like the government-funded media of China or North Korea. It is a new way that the Australian Government could support the media without giving handouts to corporations.

There are around 200 journalism academics working in Australia. Most are required to write two journal or conference papers a year that count towards their university’s research output tally. This means their research must be peer reviewed and published. Currently the only peer reviewed publications available to them are about journalism. There are no journals that publish journalism, only reflections and research about journalism. The other option, taken up by some, is to write books.

This state of affairs has prompted thoughts about starting new journals that would subject the journalism they publish to a rigorous peer review process and publish the material in a way that the commercial media can use as a source. If this could be done in a way that satisfies the research requirements of the universities, and provides a new source of quality journalism, a win-win solution will have been found.

Research Journalism is the first of this new breed of journal.

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