Francois Nel

Dr. Francois Nel

Director: Journalism Leaders Programme

School of Journalism, Media and Performance

Green Bank Building, 237

+44 (0) 1772 89 4730

Subject Areas: Journalism

François Nel is an award-winning journalist, educator and researcher with wide international experience. The founding director of the Journalism Leaders Programme, he also co-founded the Digital Editors Network and initiated the MADE (Media And Digital Enterprise) project, which is the only UK winner of the International Press Institute's inaugural News Innovation Contest sponsored by Google.


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


Full Profile

François Nel is an award-winning educator, journalist and researcher who thinks of himself as a boundary spanner, working to connect both the formal classroom and the wider community with the newsroom, the boardroom, (research) reading room.

Born in Zimbabwe, François spent more than a decade in the United States where he earned his BA and MA degrees and gained experience in radio, television and worked as a reporter at The Charlotte Observer newspaper before heading to South Africa at the end of 1991. The following year, Francois joined the faculty of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town, where he taught media courses, developed new programmes and became a head of department. Throughout, he has remained an active freelance journalist, member of professional bodies, such as the South African National Editors Forum, and has authored two Oxford University Press texts and a number of academic papers.

In 2000, he was invited to the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, where he developed and runs the Journalism Leaders Programme as well as coordinating the Digital Editors Network and Journalism Leaders Forum series.

The first academic invited to join the World Editors Forum of the World Association of Newspapers & News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), François initiated the World Newspaper Future & Change study, which he runs in collaboration with WAN-IFRA and the Norwegian School of Management.

He is currently also conducting two other research projects, ‘Laid Off: What do UK newspaper journalists do next?’ (in collaboration with ) and ‘Where else is the money? A study of online revenue models at UK newspapers'


Nel, Francois and Westlund, Oscar (2012) Managing New(s) Conversations: The role of social media in news provision and participation. In: Handbook of Social Media Management: Value Chain and Business Models in Changing Media Markets. Springer Verlag, Berlin, pp. 179-200. ISBN 978-3-642-28896-8

Nel, Francois and Westlund, Oscar (2012) The 4C’s of Mobile News: Channels, Conversation, Content and Commerce. Journalism Practice, 6 (5-6). pp. 744-753. ISSN 1751-2786

Nel, Francois P. and Hunter, Anne (2011) Equipping the Entrepreneurial Journalist: An Exercise in Creative Enterprise. Journalism and Mass Communication Educator, 66 (1). pp. 9-24. ISSN 1077-6958

Nel, Francois (2010) ‘Where else is the money? A study of innovation in online business models at newspapers in Britain’s 66 cities’. Journalism Practice, 4 (3). pp. 360-372. ISSN 1751-2786

More publications

Social Media

Teaching Activities

Teach components of business strategy, leadership and writing in the multimedia context to editors and other senior journalists who participate in the professional development courses offered by the Journalism Leaders Programme, which includes the MA in Journalism Leadership, as well as seminars, postgraduates certificates and diplomas.

Membership of professional and learned bodies

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UK (Ref:21331)
  • Fellow of the European Entrepreneurship Educators Programme (3EP)
  • Executive Member, World Editors Forum
  • Co-founder and co-convenor, Digital Editors Network, UK


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 
  • The use of digital technologies to enhance learning and teaching of students online and on campus 
  • Media Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship


Current studies include:

Pressed for Change: Business model innovation and integration in the British local newspaper industry, funded by NEMODE (New Economic Models for the Digital Economy) an initiative under the Research Council UK's Digital Economy research programme.

Where else is the money? A longitudinal study into the online business models of newspaper publishers in the UK. Data collected annually since 2008 (ongoing ).

World Newspaper Future & Change Study. Project initiator 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).

Laid Off: What UK journalists do next? A study into employment and employability in the journalism industry. First report published September 2010 (ongoing).