UCLan and Google to offer scholarships on new journalism, innovation and leaders programme



The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has teamed up with Google to offer scholarships to journalists hoping to become successful leaders and innovators in an ever-changing digital media landscape.

Supported by the Google News Initiative, up to ten scholarship places are available to study UCLan’s new Postgraduate Certificate in Journalism Innovation and Leadership. The programme is targeted at industry professionals wanting to take the lead in developing modern, digital newsrooms, with guidance from experts working for the UK Society of Editors, the Digital Editors Network, and WAN-IFRA, the World Association of News Publishers, amongst others.

Successful applicants will have their course fees covered by the scholarship and the one-year blended learning postgraduate certificate course begins in January next year. 

Dr François Nel, Reader in Media Innovation at UCLan and the scholarship programme coordinator, said: “Steering a news media organisation has never been easy, but it’s probably never been more challenging that it is today. Our revised and renamed programme is an outcome of deep academic-industry partnerships and it fills a pressing need for a practical university-certified course that will equip the next generation of journalism leaders with the competence to innovative – and the innovators with the confidence to lead.

“We are delighted that the support from the Google News Initiative allows us to open up the opportunity to the next generation of diverse news media leaders, particularly those working in the local and regional press.”

Matt Cooke, Head of Partnerships & Training for Google News Initiative, commented: “Through the Google News Initiative we’re supporting a new chapter for digital transformation training at UCLan. The curriculum being developed is grounded in real industry insights, it builds on emerging technologies and trends, and it will offer mid-career opportunities to candidates from across the country. We’re excited to see it launch.” 

The programme has been developed in close consultation with the Society of Editors UK and an advisory board of alumni and other industry thought leaders. The part-time course is delivered with a mixture of online and face-to-face learning and each student is teamed up with an experienced industry leader who will act as a mentor.

Cherilyn Ireton, Executive Director of the World Editors Forum of WAN-IFRA, the World Association of News Publishers, sits on the advisory board of the UCLan Journalism Leaders Programme. She said: “It’s critical that those seeking a sustainable way forward footing for journalism take time out of the newsroom to think and learn from others when assessing new opportunities and ways of working. 

“This will ensure that when they consider introducing changes to their newsrooms they have had time to think critically about the implications for journalism – and the communities their newsrooms serve.”

Course leader Clare Cook said: “There is so much changing in the journalism landscape that agile thinking is more important than ever. It is essential we carve out space for leaders of the future to step back and critically think about best route maps forward.

“There are so many inspiring cases out there: from the solutions-driven projects of Daraj in Lebanon, to the podcasting business model of SOWT in Jordan, new models for engaging communities by the Bureau Local and data-led insights of German-based Krautreporter. We will look across and beyond these cases to shine a light on viable and vibrant journalism futures.”

Applications must be made via the UCLan website before completing a scholarship submission. Shortlisted candidates will be contacted the week of 22 November and invited to an online video interview with a panel typically chaired by a member of the Industry Advisory Committee. The team aims to inform all candidates of the final decision by no later than Friday, 11 December.

John Mills, Reader in Journalism Innovation and Emergent Technologies at UCLan, said: “Our new Journalism, Innovation and Leadership programme is an exciting , timely and practical opportunity to learn how to innovate within journalism and beyond it. Combining the latest innovation thinking and approaches, our students will access the latest tools and techniques and learn about how to innovate in an impactful and sustainable way. Leaning on world-leading academic research and harnessing an international cohort of innovative industry advisors, the programme will grounded in current real-world challenges to help support the next generation of leaders and innovators. We can’t wait to start.”

Dr Alex Connock, Founder and Managing Director of Missile, a targeted digital video content business,  and Leader in Residence, Faculty of Culture and Creative Industries, UCLan, said: “Journalism could scarcely have ever been more important to society – yet both its delivery and funding models are in existential doubt. This is a timely course that seeks to address that, and future proof a new cohort of journalism leaders capable of creating the right content, and means of financing and delivering it, in the 2020s.” 

Keith Harrison, Leader in Residence, said: “Innovation is the lifeblood of future publishing and it runs through every UCLan course.” 

Paddi Clay, award-winning radio journalists and newspaper columnist, South Africa, said: “UCLan was invaluable in preparing me for digital journalism and revealing the crucial need for constant innovation, flexible organisations and brave leadership if journalism is to survive and thrive.”

For more information about UCLan’s Postgraduate Certificate in Journalism Innovation and Leadership and available scholarships, contact fpnel@uclan.ac.uk or cecook@uclan.ac.uk