News Futures 2035
Participatory action-research project
Dr François Nel, Reader in Media Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Media Innovation Studio (MIS)
Dr Kamila Rymajdo, Media Innovation Studio (MIS)
With additional research by:
Jeremy Clifford, Media Consultant, former Editor-in-chief at Archant and Visiting Scholar at MIS
Jonathan Heawood, Executive Director, Public Interest News Foundation and Associate Researcher for News Futures 2035
The News Futures 2035 foresight project is a response to concerns about the future of public-interest news in the UK.
Since October 2022, it has brought together experts from inside, outside and alongside the news industry who worked together to imagine, and create, a better future.
This participatory, action-research project was initiated by Dr François Nel at the Media Innovation Studio (MIS) at the University of Central Lancashire.
It helped us consider alternative scenarios, develop new visions and catalyse better relationships, all focused on the question:
How can the supply of trustworthy public-interest news in the UK be secured?
Is another future possible?
After many years of change and struggle, we believe we’re at a turning point in the future – and history – of news.
Ultimately, many have a dystopian vision – where the provision of trusted news is lost – and where people are vulnerable to false information, disengaged or avoid news altogether. It may be that we are not currently able to give communities what they want or need – but if our audiences switch off – we know the public interest is not being served.
To explore our questions, we worked with two experienced facilitators of participatory, multi-stakeholder processes: Dr Bruno Tindemans, Chief Foresight Officer for the government Department of Works in Brussels, and Alain Wouters, a strategy consultant formerly of the group planning department at Shell.
While our primary focus has been on public-interest news in the UK, we believe what have learned will be relevant further afield, not least because the British media has often led the way.
Get involved with News Futures 2035
As part of News Futures 2035, participants were invited to join the core, creative group of 75 journalists, academics, policymakers and media-development actors who met at three linked plenary discussions:
- Roundtable 1: Thursday 13 October and Friday 14 October 2022, London
- Roundtable 2: Thursday 24 November and Friday 25 November 2022, Manchester
- Roundtable 3: Thursday 2 February and Friday 3 February 2023, London
Participants were also asked to contribute their current understanding of this issue to a scene-setting paper by Dr François Nel, Jeremy Clifford and Jonathan Heawood, as well as a Delphi Expert Panel convened to complement the event series.
If you would like to be included in the News Futures 2035 research group going forward, please express your interest via this short form.
We truly welcome people with an interest or expertise in this issue to join this exceptional initiative and spend some of their precious time working together on News Futures 2035.
University of Central Lancashire, Media Innovation Studio, Society of Editors, Public Interest News Foundation, Independent Community News Network, Digital Editors Network, Bloomberg, Reach Plc and HMB Advisory.
Google News Initiative
For the latest on the project, including jobs and news, follow us on Twitter here.
Consortium steering group
Alison Gow, Audience and Content Director (North West), Reach Plc and Board, Society of Editors
Alison Gow has spent her career in regional journalism, starting as an apprentice reporter on her local newspaper. She is a past editor of WalesOnline, Wales on Sunday and the Daily Post, and is currently interim Audience and Content Director for video and audio with Reach plc, and also publisher of the Laudable podcasting brand. A board member and former president of the Society of Editors, and advisory board member for the Department of Journalism Studies, University of Sheffield, and Journalism and Leadership Programme, University of Central Lancashire, she has particular interests in journalism innovation, leadership development, organisational culture change, and audience engagement.
Alan Hunter, Co-founder, HBM Advisory (former Head of Digital for The Times and The Sunday Times)
Alan Hunter is a co-founder of HBM Advisory, which partners with clients to accelerate growth in their digital content businesses. A journalist by training, Alan served as Head of Digital at The Times and The Sunday Times of London for eight years from 2013. Responsible for the titles’ output in digital, both on and off platform, he led their transformation to being a subscription-first business. He also successfully unified, redesigned and replatformed the titles’ smartphone apps and websites and built a bespoke analytics tool. He launched a number of newsletters, including Red Box, a political daily email which later inspired a podcast and a radio programme. Newsletters at The Times occupied one of two specific roles: to drive traffic or to satisfy subscribers. Alan also served as Managing Editor, News Review Editor, Focus Editor and Deputy Sports Editor of The Sunday Times. During his time as Head of Digital, digital-only subscriptions doubled in number to 360,000.
Colin Campbell-Austin, Founder, CCA Advisory (formerly at Channel 4 and Telegraph Media Group)
Colin Campbell-Austin started his career as First Class Worldwide Cabin Crew for British Airways at Heathrow. It was recognised by the management that Colin has the ability to read, understand and quickly get to the crux of what people want and need, to bring the best out in them. He was encouraged to apply for the role of Cabin Crew Manager. He successfully managed a team of up to 450 Gatwick Cabin Crew. The team went from being one of the worst performing to one of the best 18 months.
Colin’s media career began at Channel 4 where by the time he left, first time round, he was overseeing the award winning 4Talent, which focused on inspiring and providing opportunities for diverse young people to work in the media industry. He moved to the Telegraph Media Group as Head of Talent, Resourcing and People Development. This is where Colin learned that diversity and inclusion runs through all of these areas as part of the day to day, not standalone. Colin moved back to Channel 4 as the Head of 4Inclusion. Underpinning Colin’s belief that inclusion is the key to true diversity of a happy workforce.
In 2022 Colin decided to move to France and become an independent inclusion and employee experience consultant. His clients include the Belfast Telegraph, Irish Independent and Mediahuis.
Emma Meese, Independent Community News Network (ICNN)
Inga Thordar, experienced news executive (formerly at CNN and the BBC)
Inga Thordar is an experienced media executive, newsroom editor and digital transformation leader. She is currently working as a non-executive director, consultant and strategic advisor to global companies and foundations. She is the former Executive Editor of CNN Digital Worldwide, overseeing all international news, sport and programming teams, running teams in London, Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, Lagos and NY. She was previously Senior Editor at the BBC bringing together TV and digital production teams and commissioning. She is a passionate advocate for sustainability, diversity and inclusion. She is the co-founder of the innovative gender reporting series As Equals.
Jonathan Heawood, Executive Director, Public Interest News Foundation and associate researcher for News Futures
Jonathan Heawood is Executive Director of the Public Interest News Foundation (PINF), a new charity that supports high-quality journalism in the UK. After completing a PhD at Cambridge University, he became Deputy Literary Editor of the Observer newspaper. He went on to edit the Fabian Review before being appointed Director of English PEN, an NGO that defends the rights of journalists around the world. He co-founded the Libel Reform Campaign, which led to major improvements in English libel law; and in 2013, he launched IMPRESS, the UK’s first independent press regulator, which now regulates more than 100 news publishers. He is Chair of the Stephen Spender Trust, a Senior Research Fellow at Stirling University and the author of The Press Freedom Myth (2019).
Laura Zelenko, Senior Executive Editor, Bloomberg News (Diversity, Talent, Standards, Training)
Laura Zelenko is senior executive editor at Bloomberg News overseeing editorial standards, talent, diversity and training. She joined Bloomberg in 1993 in Prague, where she was charged with establishing the company’s global presence across Eastern Europe and Russia,– hiring the initial reporting staff, opening the original news bureaus and overseeing markets, finance and business coverage. In 2001 she moved back to the United States and ran Bloomberg’s news operations in Latin America, then later created the company’s first global emerging markets team and later oversaw all beat reporting, managing more than 600 journalists around the world. In her current role, Laura serves as the newsroom’s global Standards Editor and creates initiatives aimed at bringing more inclusive representation to the newsroom and Bloomberg content. In 2018, she founded the Bloomberg New Voices program, a global effort to raise the visibility of female financial professionals that to date has sponsored intensive media training for more than 400 executives around the world and helped improve representation on Bloomberg’s news platforms.
Dr Bruno Tindemans, Chief Foresight Officer, Departement Werk en Sociale Economie, Brussels Government. Co-author, Thinking Futures: Strategy at the Edge of Complexity and Uncertainty.
Alain Wouters, Managing Director, Whole Systems nv/sa, Brussels (Belgium), Senior Associate of the Centre for Innovative Leadership (Pty) Ltd (South Africa), cSenior Associate with 4Sing GmbH (Hamburg)
Dawn Alford, Executive Director, Society of Editors.