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Explanatory Journalism Report -
From Flies to File Storage:
Policy Issues in the Life-Cycle of Explanatory Journalism

While explanatory journalism has existed for a long time, it has been transformed in new and fascinating ways online. But these transformations also pose big, unexpected challenges, many of which are related to policy.
This report proposes a life-cycle of explanatory journalism as a way to uncover policy challenges and then identify how these issues might be addressed. Implementing this report’s recommendations can improve the inclusion of diverse expert knowledge in Canadian policy debates.

Read the report

Read and download the explanatory journalism report in your preferred language.

What is explanatory journalism?

Explanatory journalism describes news  content that gives more context than traditional reporting. It can be found in dedicated outlets (e.g., The Conversation Canada) and in outlets that publish both traditional and explanatory journalism (e.g., op-eds in the Globe and Mail and La Presse). The authors may be journalists, but they are often academics or others outlining expert knowledge in more
accessible ways.

What's in this report?

From Flies to File Storage provides an overview of explanatory journalism and...

Academic Authorship

In relation to a resources and disincentives


Fair use, payment,  international audiences, and discoverability

Academic Authority

The difficulties of breaking into policy discussions

Storage of Documents

The afterlife of electronic materials


For academic institutions, publishing outlets, and policy makers

Explanatory journalism is a middle-ground between longer policy contributions, reports and briefs, and using social media to engage in policy issues.

Funding for this report was provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Suggested citation (APA):

Tworek, K., Wilkinson, S., Dubois, E., Ren, L., & Lee, L. (2021). From flies to file storage: Policy issues in the life-cycle of explanatory journalism. Pol Comm Tech Lab.


Tworek, K., Wilkinson, S., Dubois, E., Ren, L., & Lee, L. (2021). Des mouches aux mouvements de fichiers : Les enjeux de politiques jalonnant le cycle de vie du journalisme explicatif. Labo Pol Comm Tech.

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