Google News Initiative extends scholarship support for flagship journalism leaders course



Matt Cooke, head of Google News Lab, speaking into a microphone in front of a banner that reads: 'University of Central Lancashire, Journalism Innovation & Leadership'
Matt Cooke, head of Google News Lab, leading a session on management practices for the 2023 programme participants (Image: Sachin Rana)

The Google News Initiative (GNI) has extended its support of the University of Central Lancashire’s pioneering Journalism and Leadership Programme for the fourth consecutive year.

GNI will fund 15 scholarship places on the 2024 course, a part-time, 30-week programme to shape the next generation of diverse news media leaders.

Applications are now open for the postgraduate certificate course, which has been designed by a team of academics and innovative industry leaders.  The deadline for applications is 30 September, 2023, with the programme beginning in January 2024.

Since its launch in 2020, 60 media professionals from 12 different countries have completed the JIL Programme in Preston.  The group of 34 women and 26 men bring with them a wide range of media experience from national broadcasters and news publishers to digital media start-ups and technology companies.

Graduates of the programme include Andrew Kilmurray, editor of St Helens Star, Wirral Globe and Leigh Journal; Amina Bedjaoui-Chaouche, editor at Radio Algeria; Rhiannon Davies, founder of Greater Govanhill Community Magazine in Scotland; Guthrie Munyuki, editor-in-chief of Daily News in Zimbabwe; and Laura Elvin, head of news at UK agency SWNS.

Rhiannon Davies wearing a mortar board and graduate gown is handed a scroll
Rhiannon Davies, a graduate of the 2022 programme, receiving her postgraduate diploma (Image: Sachin Rana)

The two-module personal development programme will be taught online via a weekly seminar and three week-long intensive learning blocks, two of which can be attended in person at UCLan’s Preston campus. Participants typically require an additional five hours per week for research and reading.

Participants are paired with senior industry mentors from organisations such as FT Strategies, WAN-IFRA and Reach Plc to enable them to widen their network and learn from experts in their field.

Dr François Nel, Reader in Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UCLan and director of the scholarship programme, said: We are thrilled that the Google News Initiative is supporting our program for another year. This investment allow us to continue the important work of fostering the diverse leadership our news industry needs now more than ever.

Together with the industry experts who have helped develop and deliver the programme, our graduates and participants form a strong network that extends beyond the course. This network that now includes forward-thinking news media professionals from 15 countries provides a valuable forum for sharing ideas, best practices, and challenges. We are grateful for the Google News Initiative’s support in helping us build a more inclusive and equitable news industry in the UK and beyond. 

Matt Cooke, head of Google News Lab, said: “We’re announcing another year of funding and support for this innovative and experimental course, making it the fourth consecutive year the Google News Initiative has participated.

“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.”

Prof Peter Lloyd, Dean of Arts and Media at UCLan, said ““UCLan has been training journalists since 1962 and has always ensured that its teaching reflects this fast-paced and ever-changing industry.

“We are delighted to receive this continued backing from the Google News Initiative. It is key industry partnerships like this that help us remain so successful and this is reflected in our Guardian Good University Guide 2023 League Table ranking of number one in the North West and still amongst the very best in the  UK.”

Jacqui Merrington, 2023 participant, taking part in the intensive study block in UCLan’s Media Innovation Studio (Image: Sachan Rana)

Jacqui Merrington, Discovery Director at Reach Plc, is a current participant in the programme. She said: “I cannot recommend this programme highly enough to anyone wanting to build connections, learn new perspectives and share brilliant ideas that make a difference to the world.

“The JI Leaders programme expands your mind, builds your confidence and nourishes your soul. You’re not just joining a course, you’re joining a community supported by some of the best journalism leaders and innovators in the industry from Google to Conde Nast, News UK to FT Strategies.”

To apply, or for more information about the UCLan JIL Programme, visit the course page, read the FAQs or contact Dr François Nel at  Graduates of the programme are available to answer potential applicants’ questions.

Applications must be made via the UCLan website before completing a scholarship submission.