24 Jun 2022

The Conversation Canada is five years old! (Shutterstock)

Five years ago, The Conversation Canada quietly crept into existence. It was known as a “soft launch” — a term sometimes used as a cover in case something goes terribly wrong. Luckily, nothing did.

We published eight stories on that very first day, including some on topics that are still very much relevant five years later — the impact of climate change on cities, the “glass cliff” that female politicians face, why Canada needs a pharmacare plan. That first edition also included a provocative piece on race, a subject that has been one of the cornerstones of our coverage throughout the years.

Our co-founders Mary Lynn Young and Alfred Hermida of the University of British Columbia School of Journalism, Writing and Media, also wrote a first-day essay on why The Conversation Canada was needed. They’ve done another wonderful piece to mark our fifth anniversary.

To mark this big birthday, we recently invited readers to send us their thoughts. We heard from people across the country and around the world.

“We should all read about info that makes us go, ‘Hmm, never thought of that, that way,’ ” wrote Mark Brown of Gananoque, Ont. Good journalism should not only inform, but it should also open a reader’s mind to new ideas and other perspectives.

The Conversation constantly makes me think — and often outside my own comfortable box of knowledge or long-held views: that is good for both my brain and my soul. Judy Humphries, Gravenhurst, Ont.

I am so fed up with polarization. I breathe a sigh of relief when I can read articles that make me think and weigh actions being taken in our world. Jacqueline Kelly, Grimsby, Ont.

Given that our authors are academics, we know that our articles are often used in classrooms.

Wendy Burton, a lecturer with the department of politics and public administration at Toronto Metropolitan University, told us that The Conversation is “just what my first-year university students needed — plain language discussions of current research, written by reputable sources. … Several students have told me they have now bookmarked the site and check it regularly.”

Rosemary Evans said as a high school principal at University of Toronto Schools “it is very important to me to support students and staff to seek out sources which provide a balanced, carefully researched, thoughtfully reasoned, understanding of contemporary events accessible to a lay audience. … The scholarly integrity of The Conversation makes it a ‘go to source.’”

Congratulations! The Conversation is a ‘must read’ for me every morning — no matter what else is hovering, I always open and I enjoy the browse. I value highly that the content is authored by Canadian academic professionals and that the content is evidence-based. Bonnie Woodland, St. John’s, NL

Since our very first day, The Conversation Canada has published provocative stories about race and racism — something that most traditional media in Canada have historically under covered. Many readers also told us they are regular listeners to our anti-racism podcast Don’t Call Me Resilient.

As an Indigenous woman, I tire of being spoken of as resilient — I am not resilient, I am only a person who has to circumvent my life around so very much bureaucracy and institutional barriers. I am not alone. Many other ethnicities in Canada live the same way. Canada is not the ‘true north strong and free’ and The Conversation has not shied away from making us all think about that. Norma Dunning, Edmonton

Sheri Zhang of Gatineau, Que., told us she appreciates the articles we’ve published about anti-Asian racism, which has become a worse problem since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Usha Srivastava especially enjoyed an article that pointed out the hypocrisy of people complaining about Muslim women who wear a niqab at the same time face masks were being promoted as the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19. “Keep up the hard work, it is well worth it,” she wrote.

One of the things that surprised us the most since our launch is that The Conversation Canada has developed a very large international audience — 69 per cent of our readers come from outside of Canada.

The Conversation Canada helps to put in perspective events that deserve more than the sole French view, be it economical, political, international or simple and ordinary. Kind of a fresh air breeze. Michel Breisacher, Paris

As an avid reader of The Conversation Australia and now having a family connection to B.C., I find The Conversation Canada is an invaluable read. With you overseeing the same level of high-quality journalism underpinned by scientific rigor as I enjoy here, l read to find out what we as nations have in common and where we differ. Whether it be our treatment of our First Nations peoples, the environmental issues we face, social justice concerns or the escalating energy crisis and need to decarbonize, I conclude the challenges are the same. Mike Vanderkelen, Geelong, Australia

What could we do better? Some readers would like more stories on the arts and music. Others think we use too many hyperlinks in our articles, which they find distracting. Many readers told us they appreciated that we publish in both French and English. Several cited our ability to counter the disinformation that permeates social media.

The Conversation represents all that is good about journalism, research and efforts by so many people of good will to better understand the world we live in…. As misinformation and disinformation spreads, The Conversation represents an important bulwark designed to protect the truth, promote in-depth thinking and most importantly spur change based on reasoned insights and innovative thinking. Ron Burnett, President Emeritus, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Vancouver

Those who took the time to write to us about this major milestone were incredibly kind. We would be nowhere without you. We hope you will continue on this journey with us and stay up-to-date with our daily newsletter. Thank you — and here’s to the next five years!

Always reliable, readable and short. Perfect. Gail Benjafield, St. Catharines, Ont.

Read the full article here.
This content was originally published by The Conversation. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By The Conversation

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