Good article Nikki — and refreshingly free of the prejudices that plague this debate. In the end I guess it depends on what kind of research we mean by ‘scholarly’. As someone who works a lot on ‘translation’ of academic research and thinking with news media I find that theoretical perspectives can be very relevant as long as they are not couched in the jargon that obscures so much academic writing. I also think there’s a lot of good empirical research, in the US especially, although it tends to be descriptive. As you say, the key is finding forums where journalists and academics (and other stakeholders) can really engage in a two-way dialogue. And I don’t just mean inviting the editor of the New York Times to give a speech to students. And, as you know, that’s what I do. I run a think-tank where news media practitioners (and technologists, data scientists, start-ups etc) have genuine exchanges with highly theoretical research academics. Polis was created as a bit of a fluke at LSE and the institution still struggles to justify investing properly in what we in the UK call ‘impact’ or ‘engagement’. So it is still very much the exception. And I don’t claim that it’s unique or particularly brilliant. I wish it was bigger and there were more like it.

Journalist, LSE media professor, Polis think-tank director. Writes about journalism, UK & global politics

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