Conference 2020

November and December 2020

Join us on Tuesday 1 December at 12 noon for our fourth in discussion with interview with Media Minister John Whittingdale MP

About the conference

The Society of Editors (SoE) has unveiled plans for its Virtual Conference 2020 that will take place through the months of November and December.

The SoE has staged its successful conference each year in the autumn since it was founded 20 years ago. The event has become one of the most important in the UK media calendar hosting vital debates and exploring some of the most relevant issues that have been at the heart of the industry for two decades.

This year, with the restriction created by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Society has decided to stage its conference online and to spread the debates and keynote discussions over a five week period starting in early November.

The highlights of our free event programme will include:

  • Five keynote speaker discussions with major industry figures.
  • Three panels looking at Diversity in the News Media, Media Training and Mental Health in the Newsroom.
  • Five nations and regions debates: Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, North East England and The Midlands.

Latest News

Independent MD and Media Minister to speak at SoE Conference finale

The new Managing Director of the Independent, Christian Broughton and John Whittingdale, the Minister for Media and Data are to conclude the Society of Editors (SoE) Virtual Conference in December.

Christian Broughton, who was appointed to the MD role in October after almost five years as editor of the national newspaper website, will close the SoE conference with a final In Discussion With… talk on Thursday 3 December at 12 noon in association with the London Press Club.

The former Culture Secretary, John Whittingdale MP, who is currently leading plans for the National Committee for the Safety of Journalists can also can speak to issues such as the importance of media freedom during the pandemic, the government’s response to the Competition and Market Authority report, Online Harms legislation and the role of public service broadcasters. The Minister will speak at the penultimate In Discussion With… talk on Tuesday 1 December at 12 noon.

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Book now: Libel reform and threats to press freedom in Northern Ireland

The long overdue reform of libel laws in Northern Ireland and ongoing threats to journalists and press freedom more widely will be discussed by leading journalists at the Society of Editors Virtual Conference for 2020.

Titled ‘Northern Ireland: A Place Apart?’ the free debate on the evening of Tuesday 1 December 2020 will see editors and press freedom advocates in Northern Ireland discuss efforts to implement overdue and meaningful libel reform in NI alongside paramilitary threats to journalists, media plurality and privacy injunctions. The announcement of the debate comes in the same week as Belfast’s Sunday Life saw a convicted money launderer launch a publicly-funded legal bid against the newspaper in an effort to win lifetime anonymity.

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NCTJ and SoE to debate the State of Training for Journalism

The Society of Editors and National Council for the Training of Journalists are to hold the year’s most important debate on the state of media training as part of the SoE’s Virtual Conference 2020.

Exploring issues of entry routes into the profession, the demand for ongoing professional development, the impact of Covid-19 on training requirements and the need to support diverse entrants into work, a panel of experts will debate what next for media training.

The evening ‘State of Training’ panel will be held in conjunction with the NCTJ on Wednesday 2 December at 6pm to hear from top figures in journalism training.

From the newsrooms, joining the discussion will be PA Media’s director of media training, Bridgid Nzekwu, while the debate will be chaired by SoE President Alison Gow, audience and content editor for Reach plc North West.

Discussing media training partnerships will be Sian Cox-Brooker, Facebook’s strategic partner manager and Will Gore, head of partnerships and projects at the NCTJ, whose remits include Facebook’s Community Reporters scheme and the NCTJ’s Journalism Diversity Fund respectively.

To offer an academic perspective is Sam Cooper, journalism course leader at the Sheffield College, who made the switch to teaching last year after working at newsdesks including the Sheffield Star.

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Information in lockdown to form focus of Scotland panel debate

The difficulties of reporters in Scotland accessing information during the coronavirus pandemic is to form the basis of a media discussion at the upcoming SoE Conference. 

Titled ‘Information in Lockdown: The importance of a free press and the difficulties of reporting in a pandemic’, the free discussion on the evening of Tuesday 24 November 2020 will hear from frontline journalists and press freedom bodies in Scotland about the difficulties around accessing and conveying accurate information during the pandemic when devolved governments continue to operate separately and whether UK and Scottish pandemic briefings have been effective from a Scottish media perspective.

Chaired by Donald Martin, Editor-in-Chief of Newsquest Scotland, the debate will also hear from David Clegg, Editor of The Courier, Lorraine Herbison, Head of News and Sport Scotland for Hits Radio Network & Greatest Hits Radio, John McLellan, Director of the Scottish Newspaper Society and Joy Yates, Interim Editorial Director of JPI Media Scotland.

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Government figures and leading journalists to look at Wales’ place in the world

Government figures and media professionals in Wales are set to debate the country’s contribution to spheres such as politics, sport and creative thinking as part of the Society’s Virtual Conference for 2020.

Taking place on the evening of Monday 16 November, the ‘Size of Wales’ discussion will hear from leading figures including the Welsh Parliament’s Media Committee chair Helen Mary Jones and Ashok Ahir, Deputy Director, Cabinet Office Communications and until recently the Director of Communications for the UK Government in Wales. 

The session will be chaired by former WalesOnline editor Ceri Gould now Editorial Revenue Director of Reach plc and will also hear from award-winning Welsh journalist Carolyn Hitt and Paul Rowland, Audience and Content Director, Media Wales.  

Ian Murray, Executive Director of the Society of Editors said that with the Welsh Government currently leading on its own ‘firebreak’ response to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was only right that the conference looked at Wales’ contribution to many spheres as separate to the UK more widely. 

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North East media leaders to debate how to tackle online abuse

Editors and leading media thinkers are to tackle the question of journalists facing online abuse in a panel for the Society of Editors’ Virtual Conference.

With 84% of journalists recently reporting that more needs to be done to combat abuse and the launch of a UK National Committee for the Safety of Journalists amid reports that the government is set to introduce new laws to provide more protections, this leading panel will discuss what more can – and should – be done to address this issue. 

Chaired by JPIMedia interim Editorial Director Joy Yates, panellists will debate the topic ‘Tackling the increase in online abuse against our journalists’ to take place on Monday 23 November at 6pm.

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Diversity to take centre stage at SoE Virtual Conference 2020

Practical steps for improving diversity in the news media will take centre stage during a panel discussion at the upcoming Society of Editors Virtual Conference 2020.

The free debate, to be held on the evening of Wednesday 18 November 2020, will look at how diverse talent from BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds and other underrepresented communities can be supported to pursue a career in journalism. The panel will also discuss how newsrooms can increase engagement with marginalised communities and how to attract and retain diverse voices in fields such as reporting sport, politics and other areas of journalism. 

Chaired by PA Managing Director and former HuffPost UK Editor-in-Chief Polly Curtis, the discussion will also hear from Leon Mann, Broadcaster and Founder of the Black Collective of Media in Sport, Shingi Mararike, News Reporter at the Sunday Times,  Eleanor Mills, Founder and CEO of and Chair of Women in Journalism (WIJ) and Vic Motune, Head of News at The Voice.

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Kamal Ahmed, Lord Chief Justice and Rachel Corp to speak at SoE Virtual Conference

Two leading editorial figures of broadcast media and the Head of the Judiciary will speak at the Society of Editors’ Virtual Conference this autumn.

Kamal Ahmed, Editorial Director of BBC News, and Rachel Corp, recently appointed Editor of ITV News, will speak at the conference’s keynote In Discussion With sessions to take place on Thursday lunchtimes on November 12 and November 26 respectively.

Taking part in the In Discussion With series on November 19 will be the Lord Chief Justice, The Right Honourable The Lord Burnett of Maldon, the most senior figure of the judiciary in England and Wales.

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Introducing the SoE Virtual Conference 2020 

Mental health, lessons from lockdown, diversity and training are all topics that will be debated at the Society of Editors’ evening panel discussions commencing from November 10.

Chairing a debate on ‘Mental Health in the Newsroom’ is SoE President Alison Gow, Audience and Content Editor North West for Reach Plc. The ‘Diversity in the News Media’ discussion will be steered by Managing Director of PA Media, Polly Curtis.

‘Lockdown lessons from Leicester and beyond’; ‘The size of Wales’; ‘Tackling the increase in online abuse against our journalists’; ‘Information in lockdown’ and ‘Northern Ireland: A place apart?’ are five panel debates that will explore the most pressing issues affecting the media from the UK’s regions and nations. A dedicated training panel, held in conjunction with the NCTJ, will also look at journalism education and continuous development in the newsroom.

The panel discussions will be chaired by leading figures who understand the bespoke issues the media faces in each area.

The Birmingham Mail’s Marc Reeves will look at lessons learnt from the Leicester lockdown and Reach Editorial Revenue Director – formerly WalesOnline editor – Ceri Gould will steer a debate discussing Wales’s place in the world and whether it punches above or below its weight when it comes to topics from sport to politics and creative thinking.

JPIMedia’s Joy Yates will chair a debate bringing figures of the North East media together to discuss the rise in online abuse faced by journalists day-to-day.

Newsquest Scotland’s Donald Martin will delve into the ‘Information in lockdown’ topic and Sunday Life editor Martin Breen will chair a panel for Northern Ireland looking specifically at libel reform, threats to press freedom and media plurality.

Ian Murray, executive director of the SoE, said: “The Society of Editors’ annual conference has rightly earned a reputation of being the must-attend event of the media calendar. While we cannot stage the conference in person this year due to the on-going Covid-19 crisis, we are determined the conference will take place, albeit in a virtual form.

“I hope as many as possible will be able to find the time to join our live debates and discussions throughout November and December as we explore some of the pressing matters affecting our industry.

“At a time when communication and the role of the media has never been as important, it is vital we debate amongst ourselves as to the state of the industry and what the future holds.”

Visit the programme to view all of the upcoming events. Find out more about our speakers here

Keep watching for updates @EditorsUK.