an article in The Conversation

(Albany, NY) In lieu of blog post here, I have an article in The Conversation today entitled “The Waning Influence of American Political Parties.” An excerpt:

According to the General Social Survey, fewer than one in 10 young adults actively participated in a party in 2004, and that proportion fell to one in 40 by 2014.

We can debate whether it would be desirable, constitutional or even possible to restore the parties’ importance, but as long as they don’t do much for young people, young people will naturally learn to ignore them.

This is a moment to express my enthusiasm for The Conversation. It’s a rapidly growing news site that has established portals in several countries. The tagline “academic rigor, journalistic flair” summarizes its ambition: to publish scholarly articles that are edited and curated by professional journalists so that they are accessible, brief, and timely. The Conversation responds to two huge problems. On one hand, a third fewer people are employed as reporters compared to ten years ago. With traditional reporting in crisis, there is much less careful, fact-based journalism, and fewer professionals are involved in identifying interesting research and bringing it to public attention. On the other hand, academia produces a vast amount of valuable information and insight, but academics are not trained, supported, or rewarded for bringing their work to the public. The Conversation fills the gap.

See also: reform the university to meet the public’s knowledge needs in an age of information overload (a video); Five Strategies to Revive Civic Communication; and how a university “covers” the world.

About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.
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