Alliance Universities will double the number of academics participating in media opportunities over the next 3 years, according to targets set by a new campaign launched today.
The ‘driving academic diversity in our media voices’ campaign, being coordinated by University Alliance (UA), will see UA and its member universities take practical action to support greater numbers of academics, particularly those from diverse backgrounds, to engage with the media.
To meet the ambitious target, academics will be offered practical support such as knowledge and skills development, including free media and other training; and access to a peer-to-peer mentoring network. UA and its universities will proactively profile UA experts to the media, with an emphasis on profiling diverse voices through the platform. A new ‘Expert bank’ will be launched on UA’s website and hosted on ExpertFile, from which journalists and other media representatives can search for their chosen topic and select UA specialists from the field for comment.
The campaign will be launched at an online event taking place at 2pm today, 27th April, where a panel of speakers will address the importance of media diversity and how the higher education sector can take collective action to ensure greater representation in the academic voices within the media. Speaking at the event will be campaign champions, Professor Vini Lander – Professor of Race and Education, and Director of the Centre for Race, Education and Decoloniality at Leeds Beckett University, and Marverine Duffy, Course Director for Journalism and core member of the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity at Birmingham City University.
University Alliance CEO Vanessa Wilson said:
“Central to UA’s mission is unlocking potential and effecting change, and through this campaign we hope to do our bit to help address the historic underrepresentation of diverse voices in the media.
Our new Expert bank will make it easier for journalists to reach a diverse range of experts, and the peer network will ensure visibility of role models and accessible mentoring and guidance which along with the training sessions should make a big difference in supporting Alliance academics taking up media opportunities.
This is an ambitious programme of work which will not only support more of our academics to engage with the media, but also raise the collective value and status of applied research undertaken by our universities.”
The campaign has been developed with support from partners including Communications Management and ExpertFile.
Justin Shaw, Chief Higher Education consultant with Communications Management said:
“Having worked as a journalist, university press officer and a media consultant to universities globally over the last 30 years, it has been my professional goal to stimulate greater numbers of academics to recognise the value of media engagement and to support them in the development of these opportunities.
My own analysis (sponsored by ExpertFile) has shown that less than a fifth of academic experts are externally and publicly engaged in this way and that there are many barriers to media participation. The campaign will help to take a major step forward in supporting more academics to be more media involved, to bring valuable insight and evidence on the major concerns of today and tomorrow through media coverage and to ensure we have a diverse representation of academics in the media.
Alliance universities have the ideal mix of experts – often drawing on both their professional career experiences and their academic analysis.”
Peter Evans, CEO ExpertFile said:
“We are delighted to be supporting this important program. We have a shared mission to help connect the media with academic expertise within our universities, and to do more to elevate the voices of diverse experts. With the support of the ExpertFile platform, UA’s campaign will be sector-leading in collectively raising the profile of their member’s expertise and making it easier for journalists and other audiences to reach a more diverse community.”
The campaign goals are:
- Double the number of UA academics participating in media opportunities over 3 years.
- Increase diversity of our UA media commentators – ensuring it represents the diversity of UA members regardless of their ethnicity, age, gender or disability.
- Raise the profile of UA members within the media and drive interest in Alliance universities as a tremendous source of media expertise.
- Generate awareness of the value of research conducted by UA members within the media and the wider public domain.
Watch the full recording from the launch event:
- A manifesto has been released outlining the objectives and activities of the campaign, this can be found https://www.unialliance.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Driving-academic-diversity-in-our-media-voices-manifesto.pdf
- The UA ‘Expert Bank’ has been launched, with profiles of over 60 academics available for media comment, available to contact directly through the ExpertFIle platform and on UA’s website here https://www.unialliance.ac.uk/experts/
- The campaign is being supported by ExpertFIle, Communications Management and Adam Batstone