UCLan’s ground-breaking journalism programme to welcome senior newsroom leaders in 2024

8 December 2023

Journalism Innovation and Leadership Programme cohort to include participants from seven countries across three continents

More than 20 senior editors from around the globe will make up the 2024 cohort of the prestigious Journalism Innovation and Leadership (JIL) Programme at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

The 22 participants of the flagship programme, which is sponsored by the Google News Initiative (GNI) with further support from FT Strategies, Chrysalis Transformations and Media Lab Jordan, hail from seven countries across three continents and work in senior roles for a broad range of media organisations, from national broadcasters and news publishers to new digital start-ups. The Class of 2024 comprises 10 women and 12 men.

Participants include Muhyadin Roble, Head of the BBC News Somali Service; Sophie Perry, Founder of the LGBTQ+ Journalism Network; Juliana Penha, Founder editor of Migrant Women Press, and Dion Jones, Editor at Media Isle of Man. 

The programme offers a 30-week part-time, postgraduate certificate and a two-year master of arts course that have been co-designed by a team of practise-led academics and innovative industry leaders to foster the next generation of diverse news media leaders.

"The Class of 2024 are a group restless, forward thinking journalism decision makers from a variety of organisations, ranging from independent digital native publishers to major multinational media players."

Dr François Nel, Reader in Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UCLan and director of the programme

Dr François Nel, Reader in Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UCLan and director of the programme, said: “The Class of 2024 are a group restless, forward thinking journalism decision makers from a variety of organisations, ranging from independent digital native publishers to major multinational media players.

“Whatever their roles, whatever their operating contexts, they have one thing in common: a passion for strengthening the journalism industry and ensuring it will support their communities into the future. They also recognise that to achieve their full potential, they need to make time to invest in themselves.

“In this the fourth year of the programme, we know they will learn a great deal from each other as well from the expertise of the programme’s tutors and industry mentors.”

Beginning in January, the programmes will run concurrently and be taught entirely online to make the course more accessible, with the option of attending two intensive learning blocks in person at UCLan’s Preston campus or online.

"“Key advancements can only ever come from innovation, thus I am so looking forward to working with the academics and my fellow peers to address the issues the industry is facing and explore new and exciting ways of working."

Sophie Perry, founder of the LGBTQ+ Journalism Network

Sophie Perry, founder of the LGBTQ+ Journalism Network, said: “I am extremely excited to join the 2024 cohort and undertake the work to develop as a journalism leader. Journalism is a dynamic and ever changing sector which has to continually adapt to meet the needs and expectations of readers.

“Key advancements can only ever come from innovation, thus I am so looking forward to working with the academics and my fellow peers to address the issues the industry is facing and explore new and exciting ways of working."

Muhyadin Roble, head of the BBC News Somali Service, said: “Starting the Journalism Leadership and Innovation course at UCLan, I see the urgent need for change, innovation, and leadership as journalism undergoes significant shifts. In this digital age, being adaptable isn't just a choice - it's a must to stay in the game.

“This course is a chance to learn from experts, team up with fellow learners and create an environment where leadership and innovation can really flourish. I'm excited to be part of this journey, doing my bit to make sure the future of journalism is both powerful and forward-thinking."

"I see the urgent need for change, innovation, and leadership as journalism undergoes significant shifts. In this digital age, being adaptable isn't just a choice - it's a must to stay in the game."

Muhyadin Roble, head of the BBC News Somali Service

Thanks to ongoing support from the GNI and new funding from FT Strategies, Chrysalis Transformations and Media Lab Jordan, 20 of this year’s cohort have been granted scholarships. The GNI also helps to facilitate the industry mentoring programme by offering key network connections and providing access to a pioneering approach and practice across the news industry. Chrysalis’ founder Jeremy Clifford is also the programme’s head of mentoring, while Media Lab Jordan founder Lara Ayoub is a previous participant and is returning to UCLan next year to begin a PhD.

Lisa MacLeod, Director and Head of EMEA at FT Strategies, said: “FT Strategies is very proud to be supporting this initiative that is truly driving media innovation and diversity in journalism. We look forward to welcoming new ideas on how to build long-term growth in the sector from this next cohort of experts.”

Matt Cooke, Head of Google News Lab, said: “We hope the next cohort of participants will benefit from studying with UCLan and contribute towards the growing alumni of industry professionals who have completed the course. We're grateful to the expert trainers and mentors who've made this possible. We look forward to seeing the university build for the future and provide opportunities for journalists from across the industry."

"T Strategies is very proud to be supporting this initiative that is truly driving media innovation and diversity in journalism. "

Lisa MacLeod, Director and Head of EMEA at FT Strategies

Lara Ayoub said: "It has never been more crucial to support journalists, media experts, and leaders of change than it is today. As a women’s rights advocate and career journalist, I have unwavering certainty that the Journalism Innovation & Leadership Programme at UCLan will contribute to our collective mission of bringing change to our world. By sponsoring a fellow JILeader through The Media Lab, I aspire to advance our industry one journalist at a time."

All participants are paired with a senior industry mentor, from organisations including FT Strategies, WAN-IFRA and Reach Plc to enable them to widen their network and learn from experts in their field.

Jeremy said: “The mentoring sessions have proven to contribute hugely to the value of the programme, with 90% of participants on the current course saying it has helped them to grow in confidence as leaders of change.

“We have assembled an impressive group of industry leaders and thinkers who happily give up their time to support the programme and share their knowledge and experience, while also learning from the participants.”

More information about the Journalism Innovation and Leadership Programme is available on the UCLan website or by emailing the team.

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