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February 5, 2014updated 06 Feb 2014 2:15am

Boffin-backed news website The Conversation takes on six more editors as monthly readers exceed 1m

By Dominic Ponsford

Innovative news website The Conversation has recruited six new editors and launched two extra sections after securing more funding.

The site, which started in Australia, launched a UK edition in May and works by providing a platform for academics to work with editors and create news-based content for a mainstream audience.

The UK site claims to have reached 850,000 unique users in January. All its content is available for free syndication to other news outlets and this brings its claimed total readership for January up to 1.65m.

After launching with eight full-time editors it now has 14 full-time journalists – including a new Glasgow-based Scotland editor who is joining in the coming weeks.

The new sections of Arts and Culture and Education add to the existing specialisms of: Business and Economy, Environment and Energy, Health and Medicine, Politics and Society and Science and Technology.

The site is funded entirely by grants from universities and other groups associated with research and academia. New backing has come in from Research Councils UK, academic publisher Sage and seven more universities – meaning the site now has funding place to see it through to the end of July.

So far it has attracted 1,300 academic contributors and its content has been syndicated by titles including The Guardian, New Statesman, The Week and Huffington Post.

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Editor Stephen Khan told Press Gazette there is scope for the site to grow further: "It feels like the start. A lot of academics are very pleased that they have reached out to a level of readership than they have never done before.

"It is eight months in and we are just scratching the surface, there is a lot more potential there."

Following the recruitment of a Glasgow-based editor, he said he would like to see The Conversation having locally-based editors at other cities around the UK.

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