Society chief joins board of directors on UCLan’s prestigious journalism leaders’ course

Posted on: November 16, 2021 by admin

The University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) successful Journalism Innovation and Leadership Programme (JIL) has received further industry backing following the appointment of the Society of Editors’ (SoE) Executive Director, Dawn Alford, to its board of industry advisors and mentors.

Alford, who took the helm at the SoE in July, had an extensive career in newspapers and as a magazine editor, before taking on the role. As a member of the JIL board, Alford will help to guide and develop course content as well as passing on her expertise and knowledge to course participants.

Alford said: “I’m delighted to be joining the board at this pivotal time for our industry when it’s more important than ever that our editorial leaders of the future have the skills required to navigate any challenges. It’s also vital our industry recognises and promotes talents from a diverse background in order for our newsrooms to fully reflect every area of society.”

The appointment comes as the JIL course, supported by the Google News Initiative (GNI), commits to offering three tuition-fee scholarships, worth £2,700 each, to staff from SoE member organisations.

The JIL programme has been designed specifically for working professionals to gain the practical skills and in-depth insights needed to effectively leads teams to deliver a digital transformation across their newsroom.

Alford joins an already impressive line-up of industry mentors, made up of senior executives with experience at some of the world’s most recognised media brands, including the BBC, CNN, Financial Times, The Guardian and The Telegraph.

Dr François Nel, Reader in Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UCLan and director of the scholarship programme, said: “Participants learn a great deal from each other over the course of this programme, alongside their engagement with their tutors and mentors. We’re delighted to be able to extend this opportunity to members of the Society of Editors, who have partnered on the course from the start.”

The class of 2021 came from a diverse range of media organisations around the world and work for local and national newspapers, public broadcasters, magazines, news agencies and digital native news outlets.

Francois added: “Although their personal contexts and professional challenges might, at first, appear very different, there is much the cohort have in common.

“Prime amongst those is their shared passion for the role journalism can play in the health and wealth of communities – and the desire to step up to be the leaders and innovators our industry needs to push through this difficult time and to thrive.”

Alison Gow, President of the Society of Editors and Audience and Content Director for Reach Plc northwest, has been actively involved in devising and delivering the programme. She also participated in an earlier version of the course.

She said: “The programme transformed how I thought about news, audiences and leadership. The course content was exactly what I needed then (and continue to draw on now) to navigate the huge and on-going disruption of the media industry. And I met smart, amazing people who I count as great friends to this day.”

Anyone wanting to join the course in January next year can apply online.

Interested parties can also contact François  at to declare their interest and find out more about applying for the SoE scholarship. The application deadline for the next cohort is November 30.