Local news mentorship programme

As the pandemic has once again reduced opportunities to meet and share knowledge with senior peers, is relaunching its mentoring programme that will pair experienced industry professionals with local and regional journalists in the UK who are passionate about their newsrooms and their communities.

As most local news organisations are now focusing on recovery, the objective is to connect clever people and provide space to exchange ideas about innovation. Areas of expertise span audience engagement, podcasting, use of AI-powered tools, data-informed editorial strategy, working with social media audiences, and many others.

The programme is supported by United Robots and Utopia Analytics.

How it works:

Mentees have at least three years of experience in the media sector and are working on - or want to test - a new idea in their newsroom. Mentors are selected from our network of industry contacts.


Mentors and mentees will have one online call every month for six months. The calls should take around 1 hour and they should cover:

  • assessing new ideas
  • challenges the mentee is facing with their project(s)
  • assessing any progress that has been made and providing feedback
  • agreeing on realistic actions to take before the next meeting
  • setting a date and time for the next conversation to manage everyone’s expectations
  • absolute confidentiality and safe, non-judgemental conversations

Guidelines for the mentors:

  • set expectations and boundaries: you are not expected to get someone’s job done but to provide feedback, advice and encouragement
  • be honest about your own successes and failures your mentee can learn from
  • share any resources, knowledge and opportunities that can help your mentee achieve their objectives
  • keep track of your mentee’s progress

Guidelines for the mentees:

  • make sure you have a clear idea of what you are looking to achieve before each meeting
  • honour your commitments - if you promise to get something done, please get it done
  • be honest about your progress and obstacles you encounter so your mentor can give you the right advice
  • keep in touch with your mentor

The applications for the third round of our mentorship programme will open in September 2022. Watch this space or subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates.

Relationships developed during a mentorship programme often evolve into lasting friendships. The main idea is to keep conversations about newsroom innovations going, look out for each other and improve the way we serve our audiences.

Our mentors

Jessica Best

Audience engagement and revenue consultant

Jessica is a journalist, editor, researcher, and media strategist. She has previously worked at the South Wales Argus, WalesOnline, MirrorOnline, micropayments platform Blendle, and member-supported journalism platform The Correspondent. She currently works with the Membership Puzzle Project and consults for newsrooms as they develop audience revenue initiatives.

What Jessica can help you with: Organisational strategy/newsroom management, audience engagement or growth, membership and crowdfunding

Shirish Kulkarni

Community organiser, The Bureau Local

Shirish is an award-winning investigative journalist, researcher and mental health trainer with 25 years’ experience working in all of the UK’s major broadcast newsrooms.

He now combines research on innovative forms of news storytelling and AI, with his work as a community organiser at The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

What Shirish can help you with: Using AI in the newsroom, innovative storytelling techniques, workforce issues (mental wellbeing, diversity and inclusion)

Caroline Scott

Google News Lab teaching fellow, Google

Caroline works with news organisations and journalists in the UK and Ireland. The News Lab is a team within the Google News Initiative whose mission is to collaborate with journalists and entrepreneurs to drive innovation in news. Caroline's mentorship will provide help in a range of tools that will help with researching and verifying information, as well as visualising data in exciting ways.

What Caroline can help you with: Digital transformation for print publications, innovative storytelling techniques, fact-checking and productivity tools

Cecilia Campbell

Chief marketing officer, United Robots

Cecilia Campbell is a Swedish media journalist with more than 20 years' experience reporting on the news publishing industry internationally. She is the CMO of Swedish start-up United Robots, based in Malmö. Her work at United Robots includes advising publishers on how to free up reporter time through automation of routine reporting. Previously she worked for WAN-IFRA, running workshops and writing reports around reader revenues.

What Cecilia can help you with: Using artificial intelligence in the newsroom, work with robot reporters

Catalina Albeanu

digital editor, DoR

Catalina Albeanu is digital editor at DoR, a non-profit media organisation based in Romania. DoR publishes narrative journalism with the aim to empower its community, to help it be more empathic, and to point it towards solutions. Catalina joined DoR in 2018 to help with the transition to digital membership and now works on editorial production, looking for new formats for telling DoR stories.

What Catalina can help you with: Audience engagement/audience growth, digital transformation for print publications, innovative storytelling techniques

Ståle de Lange Kofoed

associate director, The Norwegian Institute of Journalism

Ståle teaches online information retrieval, investigative journalism and media innovation. Before joining NIJ, he worked as an editor and reporter for several national media companies in Norway. He is the author of two books about digital journalism and visual storytelling. Ståle recently completed a year-long master programme in innovation studies.

What Stale can help you with: Organisational strategy/newsroom management, innovative storytelling techniques, innovation processes and methodology, investigative journalism

Megan Lucero

director, The Bureau Local, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Megan is the director of the Bureau Local, an award-winning newsroom and a people-powered, grassroots reporting network that is part of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the largest non-profit investigative news organisation in the UK. The Bureau Local is pioneering a new way to do community-led, collaborative, public interest journalism that can support local news in the UK.

What Megan can help you with: Organisational strategy/newsroom management, workforce issues (mental wellbeing, diversity and inclusion)

John Crowley

editor and consultant

John Crowley has taken on digital and managerial roles for The Daily Telegraph, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek and The Irish Post among others. As a freelancer he is well versed with distributed working, writing and commissioning content around business, tech, newsroom management, burnout and disinformation. He also advises companies around the ever-changing digital media landscape, pitching journalists and audience insights.

What John can help you with:

Organisational strategy/newsroom management, digital transformation for print publications, workforce issues like mental wellbeing, diversity and inclusion

Peter Houston

podcast host, freelance journalist and publishing consultant

Peter is co-host of the Media Voices podcast, discussing the business of media and interviewing senior publishing executives every week. He is also a founder of the Publisher Podcast Awards, recognising the best in magazine and newspaper podcasts. He writes regularly about publishing strategy, with bylines in The New Statesman, The Drum, InPublishing and What's New in Publishing, and consults on content-led revenue diversification strategies.

What Peter can help you with:

Podcasting, new formats, editorial-training development, content-led revenue diversification

This programme is supported by:

United Robots AB is a Swedish technology company working in automated editorial content. The company leverages structured data to provide publishers with automatically generated content about sports, real estate, traffic, weather, local businesses and the stock market.

Utopia Analytics is a Finnish company that enables automated moderation of reader comments and cuts down the publishing delay. Inappropriate behaviour, bullying, hate speech, discrimination, sexual harassment and spam are filtered out 24/7 so teams can focus on moderation policy management.

Freelancers for hire

Advertise here: Contact
John Thompson