A late dark night in December- a researcher and two journalists are entangled in a deep discussion. A new service with the aim of promoting female experts has been launched in Sweden. The researcher is lamenting how expertise of both men and women is so underutilized in Finland. A journalist ponders how experts could be more comprehensively and quickly reached.
Behold! An idea is born! But first the call for this idea needs to be verified.
There’s a multitude of experts in the country, and in approximately one out of four news articles an expert is consulted. Nevertheless, the utilization of expert sources in media isn’t very diverse.¹
To begin with, 72% of all experts utilized by the media are male. There’s no difference in the willingness to appear in the media between male and female experts.¹
Still, the most significant obstacle blocking experts from appearing in the media is the simple fact that they are not contacted by journalists.¹
“From the press point of view, the crux of the problem seems to be how to find relevant, easy to interview and proficient experts, while simultaneously ensuring that the group of utilized experts remains diverse.” writes researcher Mari K. Niemi.
The problem is also identified in major Finnish media organizations. According to Ville Seuri, Chief Editor at Helsingin Sanomat: ”There are more and more subjects that demand immediate commenting. And immediate does not mean for the paper of the following morning, but rather within three hours. The situation is extremely difficult, especially considering the (need for) diversity in expert opinions.”
We are creating a solution to this burning issue, going by the name Kuka.
Kuka is a database that promotes expertise broadly. Journalists can use the service to quickly and versatilely reach experts, and experts can reach journalists and other experts interested in their specific field.
Kuka is both a search engine and a fast contact service. The profiles for both experts and journalists are tagged with keywords defining the persons’ fields of expertise (for example “cybersecurity”, “health service reform”, “modern African literature”).
Based on the material collected in our interviews, it seems that discovering and reaching experts is problematic also in other fields besides journalism. Kuka could thus also bring expertise within easier reach for civil servants and political decision makers.
Currently, our coders are researching the best ways to optimize the search for experts. The anthropologist, researcher and service designer in our team are mapping out the needs of our targeted users. Our graphic designer is in the process of being inspired by shapes and colours and is sketching out a clear visual appearance for Kuka.
Join in the discussion on Twitter!
Kuka: Mari Vaara, Iris Sandelin, Ville Vaara, Jaakko Nygrén and Tuomas Valtanen
¹According to the study conducted by Centre for Parliamentary Studies in the University of Turku.