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Ten thousand readers in nearly 150 countries

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And it was only published last week, says UND’s Rebecca Rozelle-Stone of her article in The Conversation

UND Professor Rebecca Rozelle-Stone’s webpage on The Conversation links to her article, “When Tragedy Becomes Commonplace: Why News Consumers Feel Crisis Fatigue.” Web screenshot.

Editor’s note: September 6, Je Conversation published an article by Rebecca Rozelle-Stone, professor of philosophy and religion at the UND. UND Today has reprinted the article here, and an interview with Professor Rozelle-Stone about her experience with The Conversation is below.

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UND Today: Congratulations on being the first UND scholar to write for The Conversation since the University became a Sustaining Member of the organization in July!

Rebecca Rozelle-Stone: Thanks! Yes, I’m glad the communications team at UND introduced me to The Conversation over the summer, because before that, I had no idea the organization even existed. But now I get their newsletter and read the articles, and it’s great.

UND Today: Can you tell us how you decided to write an article for The Conversation?

Rebecca Rozelle-Stone: Sure. At first, I wasn’t sure I would have the time to do it; but after looking at the potential benefits of writing an article, I was convinced, especially when I saw that they wanted a short article – something that was around 800-1000 words.

I thought, ‘Well, it can be done.’ After all, it’s not like writing a typical journal article in philosophy, which is usually around 20 pages.

And I loved the prospect of addressing contemporary issues that would interest and perhaps affect people, but also related to my research.

So, I initially had a few ideas to submit to them. I spoke to Kalpana Jain, who is their senior religion and ethics editor, and presented my ideas. One she thought was quite complex; but the other, which ended up being the one that got published, was about crisis fatigue. And it’s a topic that came out of my own research on moral care.

I accepted that suggestion, started writing my ideas, and then wrote my initial article, which was probably around 1,300 words. I sent that, and then, pretty quickly – and that’s another reason I loved writing for them; they answer you right away – she answered me.

I think the article has gone through about six different versions. Again, a lot of this was new to me, due to the types of edits they wanted and their requirement that I put a hyperlink for every complaint I made. I wasn’t used to doing that last task, but I thought it was really helpful to make sure the article offered the data and information to back up my arguments.

As for the changes, many were aimed at making the language more accessible to the general public, which I appreciated. Additionally, they wanted to reduce the length of the article to be closer to their usual standard, which is, again, around 1,000 words.

And we went through those six drafts or so in about two weeks. For me, it was really fast, given how long it usually takes to get feedback on traditional journal articles.

Rebecca Rozelle Stone

UND Today: Is this review article feedback a matter of weeks or months?

Rebecca Rozelle-Stone: So, I sent in a chapter to be published in a book, and that was two years ago now. And I’m still waiting! (Laughs)

It’s usually not that long. But for newspaper articles, it will often take around nine months, and sometimes even longer.

So that quick turnaround really motivated me, especially because I wanted to publish the article soon, given that it was a news issue. It made me want to keep writing and doing it.

I also loved seeing it come out so quickly when finished! You know, there’s something rewarding about that.

UND Today: What was the response?

Rebecca Rozelle-Stone: Since its publication – and it’s only been a little over a week – it has been read by more than 10,000 people in a total of almost 150 countries, including Mongolia and Botswana and 122 people in Norway. It was reposted on about 20 news sites, ranging from Fast Company and the Houston Chronicle and KSTP-TV in the Twin Cities to the Huron Daily Tribune and the Laredo Morning Times.

It has already been translated into Ukrainian. I just received a request for a Japanese translation.

I was asked to give a short audio recording on the subject for The Academic Minute series, and I was asked to give a talk at a college in Minnesota. It’s the kind of opportunity that would very rarely arise when publishing more traditional articles, so I think it’s been a really good experience.

The Conversation also lets you access metrics through a dashboard on its website. It’s been fascinating to track things like number of views or bed the article is getting, how many tweets have been about it and things like that, which are comments I’ve never received with anything else I’ve posted. So it’s great to have this idea.

UND Today: Here at the UND communications office, we received an email regarding your story the other day. He noted that your article was the lead article on NiemanLab.org, a website run by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.

Rebecca Rozelle-Stone: Wow, I hadn’t heard of that! That’s wonderful.

You know, another reason I’m glad I got to write this kind of article is so I could send it to my parents after it’s published, and it’s something they can read and understand. The other things I do are a lot more academic, but it was great to have something that lets family members know what I’ve been working on.

UND Today: We were particularly impressed with how you incorporated the thoughts and experiences of Simone Weil – the philosopher you have studied and written about extensively – into your article.

Rebecca Rozelle-Stone: Thanks! It was apt, I think, because while Simone Weil was a fairly obscure French philosopher, her job was to try to reach out and work with the poor and marginalized classes and make a difference in the lives of ordinary people. And so I think she would be really excited about that kind of place, because that’s the kind of work she’s done herself.

I mean, she quit her job as a philosophy teacher to go into factories and learn how factory workers lived. She taught ancient Greek texts to farmers working in a vineyard, for example. So that’s the kind of spirit that I think The Conversation embodies.

UND Today: Were the editors of The Conversation good to work with?

Rebecca Rozelle-Stone: Absolutely yes. I had about three different people on The Conversation team working with me at different points in the process, and each one was great. They gave really thoughtful and good feedback, none of it being too heavy; you know, it was “Can you find a hyperlink that would support this claim?” or “Could we rephrase this in a different way, so it’s less technical?”

It worked as it was supposed to, from what I could see.

UND Today: It’s wonderful. So, to sum up, would you recommend that your colleagues consider writing an article for The Conversation?

Rebecca Rozelle-Stone: I want. If they have ideas for how their research could be applied to popular topics or current issues that people care about, I would definitely recommend that they consider presenting their ideas to The Conversation. I think writing for them helps promote our own research, and it certainly helps the general public find out what we do and what kind of great work the UND does here.