The Conversation founder Andrew Jaspan resigns for new role with RMIT

Andrew Jaspan, the founder of academic publishing platform The Conversation is leaving the organisation after months of tension and uncertainty around the future of his role.

Jaspan, a former editor of some of the world’s most famous mastheads including The Scotsman, The Observer, The Big Issue and The Age created the Conversation in 2011 before securing funding to spin-off the publication in the UK, US, Africa and France.


Andrew Jaspan The Conversation

Andrew Jaspan in The Conversation’s newsroom

Joe Skrzynski, the acting chair of The Conversation Media Group announced the change in leadership, revealing Jaspan will take up a new post as director of the Global Academy and Professorial Fellowship at RMIT.

He thanked Jaspan for his service to the organisation and what he had achieved in a short amount of time despite the tough conditions facing many media organisations.

“On behalf of the director and members of TCMG, I not only thank Andrew for his role in founding and leading The Conversation, but pay tribute to his leadership for the seven years since inception of what is the most successful global start-up in digital publishing, launching here in Australia and then spreading rapidly internationally,” he said.

Unusually, advertising was not the main part of The Conversation’s model, which receives funding to help academic institutions communicate their work more widely. Everything The Conversation publishes is done so under a Creative Commons licence meaning other publications – including Mumbrella – are free to republish relevant articles. The Conversation employs newsrooms staffed with journalists to work with the academics on publishing their copy in an accessible way.

“The Conversation has been successfully established as a bold new media outlet that informs public debate with knowledge-based journalism that is responsible, ethical and evidence based, by unlocking the knowledge of researchers and academics to provide the public with clarity and insight into society’s greatest problems, at a time when traditional media business models are under challenge and trust in media is under attack,” said Skrzynski.

Jaspan said in the statement he was proud of his achievements and wished the publication every success for the future.

Jaspan went on enforced leave late last year after senior staff complained about his management style and the future direction of the global group, according to The Guardian – rumblings which echoed those of staff at The Age in 2008 in which 235 journalists passed a motion saying he restricted their ability to report without fear or favour.

The polarising figure said his new role would involve “working with the universities to develop new approaches to the provision of global information informed by an understanding of the cross-border and cross-cultural perspectives of the Global South and North”.

Jaspan’s services will be “retained for strategic counselling to the board”, Skrzynski confirmed and the search us now underway for the group CEO position.


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