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Francois Nel

Dr. François Nel

Reader in Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship

School of Journalism, Media and Performance

Greenbank Building, GR237

+44 (0) 1772 89 4758

fpnel@uclan.ac.uk

Subject Areas: Journalism, Business and Management

Dr François Nel is an award-winning journalist, educator and researcher with wide international experience. A National Teaching Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, he is founding director of the Journalism Leaders Programme, co-founder of the Digital Editors Network, a Fellow of European Enterprise Educators Programme (3EP) and former Visiting Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford.

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Full Profile

A media innovation specialist with wide international experience, Dr François Nel is an award-winning journalist, educator, researcher, author and consultant who has worked in the US, Europe and Africa to to devise and deliver ground-breaking research, courses, and transformation programmes that support innovating organisations, entrepreneurs, and students inside and outside of academia.   

A Reader in Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship, he is the initiator of the Media And Digital Enterprise (MADE) project for start-ups, which was the only UK winner of the International Press Institute’s inaugural News Innovation Contest sponsored by Google in 2011. In 2015, he was a Visiting Fellow of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, and convened the UK’s first Journalism Entrepreneurship Summit in collaboration with the IPI and Talk About Local, and with further support from Google.

Named a National Teaching Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2013, François in that year also became the first media specialist to be named a Fellow of the European Entrepreneurship Educators Programme (3EP). As such, he is amongst a select group of 25 UK academics and one of only 75 in Europe to have been awarded the prestigious 3EP Fellowship which aims to support and develop enterprise education. He has earned both the Harris Award for Excellence in Curriculum Innovation and the Harris Award for Research Excellence at UCLan, been named Educator of the Year by the Public Relations Institute of South Africa, and won the Specialist Press Association’s overall Pica Prize for Consumer Journalism for an investigation into illegal diamond smuggling in South Africa.  

He is co-founder of the Digital Editors Network (UK), and the first academic invited to join the World Editors Forum of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).  

An active researcher, François was a key contributor that UCLan’s submission to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework in Communication, Culture & Media Studies (UoA36), which was considered to include “World Leading” scholarship – and was the university’s highest ranked unit of assessment.  François’ research focuses on the opportunities and impacts of digital technologies on the business, practice, and role of news media firms.

He is the principal investigator of the world news media innovation study initiated in 2009 in collaboration with the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). The annual global study conducted in 10 languages underpins a variety of scholarly and industry outputs, including WAN-IFRA’s new World News Publishers Outlook 2017 report. He is the author of two books for Oxford University Press and more than 30 book chapters, journal articles, papers and industry reports that have appeared in, amongst others, Journalism Practice, Journalism Studies, Journalism and Mass Communication Educator, and the Rhodes Journalism Review. François is a committed academic mentor with experience supervising research students at undergraduate, masters, and doctoral levels.

He earned a BA (cum laude) in Business Communication and English from North Park University at Chicago, an MA in English from Winthrop University in South Carolina, and a PhD in Journalism from City, University of London. He completed the Leadership for Online News Managers programme at the Poynter Institute, FL and earned a Certificate in Finance and Strategy for Media Managers at the Graduate School of Business of the University of Cape Town.

François was born in Zimbabwe and educated in the US, South Africa, and the UK. A citizen of both the UK and South Africa, he now works in the UK and internationally from his bases in Manchester and Cape Town. 

Publications

Nel, F and Millburn-Curtis, C. (2017) World Newsmedia Outlook. Paris: World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

Nel, F, Lehtisaari, K. and Millburn-Curtis, C. (2015). ‘Exploring confidence:  Entrepreneurial leadership in news media organisations.’ International Media Management Academic Association (IMMAA) Annual Conference, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of Journalism, September 17-18, 2015

Nel, F. and Westlund, O. (2013) ‘Managing New(s) Conversations: The Role of Interactivity in News Provision, Participation and Profit’. In: Friederichsen, M. Muhl-Benninghaus, W. (eds.) Handbook of Social Media Management: Value Chain and Business Models in Changing Media Markets. Berlin: Springer

Nel, F. and Westlund, O. (2012) ‘The 4C’s of Mobile News: Channels, Conversation, Content and Commerce.’ Journalism Practice, Future of Journalism Special Issue, Spring 2012.

Hunter, A. and Nel, F. (2011) ‘Equipping the Entrepreneurial Journalist: An Exercise in Creative Enterprise’, Journalism and Mass Communication Educator, Spring 2011

Nel, F. (2010). ‘Where else is the money? A study of innovation in online business models at newspapers in Britain’s 66 cities.’ Journalism Studies, Vol 4, No 3, 360-372.

More publications

Research Activities

François is research active within the area of journalism, media theory and practice and is a member of the Journalism research group.

Key research interests are:

  • The impact of new digital technologies on the practice and management of news organisations
  • Innovation and the development of new online business models for news organisations
  • Media Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship
  • The use of data in and for journalism

Projects

Current studies include:

World Newsmedia Innovation Study and researcher for the annual global study  initiated in 2009 in collaboration with the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and  conducted in 11 languages (ongoing). This unique data set underpins a variety of academic studies and industry reports, including the WAN-IFRA’s World Newsmedia Outlook.

Membership of professional and learned bodies

National Teaching Fellow (2013) of the Higher Education Academy; Fellow of European Enterprise Educators Programme (3EP); 2015 Visiting Fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford; Member of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA); Convenor: Digital Editors Network (UK).

External Activities

Key research interests are:

  • Co-founder and co-convenor, Digital Editors Network, UK
  • Principal, Innovation Research Group (IRG)
  • Executive Member, World Editors Forum of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (2005)

Teaching Activities and Responsibilities

Current studies include:

Teach components of media economics, business strategy, leadership and writing in the crossmedia context to undergraduates and postgraduates, as well as to professionals who participate in the professional development courses offered by the Journalism Leaders Programme, which includes the MA in Journalism Leadership, as well as seminars, postgraduate certificates and postgraduate diplomas.

Conferences

Convenor: Journalism Entrepreneurship Summit