The Other Side of the Desk: With "The Conversation" Editor Emily Costello


How can writing for the general public help scholars to democratize education? Today, The Conversation editor Emily Costello takes us behind the scenes of a “typical” day at her editor’s desk, and shares how The Conversation partners with academics to help them communicate their expertise to a general audience.

More about The Conversation: They publish articles written by academic experts for the general public, and edited by a team of journalists. These articles share researchers’ expertise in policy, science, health, economics, education, history, ethics and most every subject studied in colleges and universities. Some articles offer practical advice grounded in research, while others simply provide authoritative answers to questions that spark curiosity. The Conversation U.S. is part of a global group of news organizations founded in Australia in 2011 by a former newspaper editor who wanted to encourage academics to engage with the public. Their main US newsroom is in Boston, with editors working remotely in cities across the country. There are also editions in Africa, Australia, Canada, France, Indonesia, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom. Through a Creative Commons license, all articles are distributed – at no charge – to news organizations across the geographic and ideological spectrum.

More about our guest: Emily Costello is the managing editor of The Conversation US, a non-profit newsroom with the mission of bringing academic expertise to the public. The Conversation's content and newsletters are free to read and free for other media to republish. Emily is responsible for directing coverage by the newsroom's 22 editors, making sure The Conversation's articles are of consistent high quality and working with external media partners. She hosts a weekly Sunday newsletter featuring the most read stories of the week. Emily has a professional interest in nonprofit journalism models, greening of news deserts and brainstorming best practices. She has worked in many types of media, including local newspapers, public television and radio, and childrens' books and magazines. Emily is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and Barnard College. She is a member of the first journalism cohort for Take the Lead: 50 Women Can Change the World.

More about our host: Dr. Christina Gessler holds a PhD in history, which she uses to explore what stories we tell and what happens to those we never tell. She is a freelance book editor, and has served as content director and producer of the Academic Life podcast since she launched it in 2020. The Academic Life is proud to be an academic partner of the New Books Network.

Listeners to this episode may be interested in:

  • Becoming the Writer You Already Are, by Michelle Boyd
  • Revise, by Pamela Haag
  • How Writing Works: A Field Guide to Effective Writing, by Roslyn Petelin
  • Writing with Pleasure, by Helen Sword
  • Subatomic Writing: Fundamental Lessons to Make Language Matter, by Jamie Zvirdoin

Your Host

Christina Gessler

Dr. Christina Gessler is the creator, show host, and producer of the Academic Life podcast. She holds a PhD in U.S. history.
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