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Local editors and newsdesk chiefs picked for Google ‘digital leaders’ scheme

Jennifer SimpsonRegional editors and newsdesk chiefs are among the working journalists who will study to become “digital leaders and innovators” on a new university course.

The University of Central Lancashire has announced the initial cohort which will undertake a new postgraduate certificate in journalism innovation and leadership.

The scholarship programme, which is targeted at industry professionals, was launched in association with Google in October.

The course’s 14-strong ‘Class of 2021′ includes Andrew Kilmurray, who edits the St Helens Star and Leigh Journal, and Jennifer Simpson, pictured, who is content and news editor at the Lancashire Post and Blackpool daily The Gazette.

The class will undertake three 10-week blocks of instruction that will be a mix of lectures, discussions and small-group coaching and mentoring by industry leaders.

Among the mentors taking part is Society of Editors president Alison Gow, who is audience and content director for Reach plc in the North-West of England.

Dr François Nel, reader in media innovation and entrepreneurship at UCLan and director of the scholarship programme, said: “Though 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.

“We have little doubt that they’ll learn a great deal from each other over the course of this programme, alongside their engagement with their tutors and mentors. We can’t wait to get started.”

The certified postgraduate programme is supported by the Google News Initiative, which has provided funding for scholarships and to facilitate the associated mentoring programme.

Matt Cooke, head of partnerships and training at the GNI, said: “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.”