As the pandemic has reduced opportunities to meet and share knowledge with senior peers, launches a virtual mentoring programme that will pair experienced industry professionals with local and regional journalists in the UK who are passionate about innovation in their newsroom.

The objective is to create relationships and provide space to exchange actionable ideas about new ways to better serve regional audiences. Mentors’ areas of expertise span audience engagement, use of AI-powered tools, data-informed editorial strategy, working with social media audiences, digital transformation, and many others.

The scheme is aimed at newsroom employees with at least five years of experience in the media sector and who are working on - or want to implement - a new idea in their newsroom. They will spend six hours over six months with their mentors, honing their skills and receiving support to get their project off the ground.

"Journalists seldom have time to step away from their day-to-day work and take a look at the bigger picture. By pairing the mentees with industry experts, we want to ignite their desire to experiment with new ideas and help their newsrooms tackle some of the challenges the industry is facing today," said Marcela Kunova, editor at, who oversees the programme.

Mentees have until 25 July 2021 to apply for the scheme.

This year’s mentors are:

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.

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.

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.

Peter Stewart, journalist (BBC) and author

A journalist and broadcaster with 30 years’ experience in BBC and commercial radio, Peter is the author of several books on audio and video presentation and production and was part of the BBC Training department (now ‘Academy’). He has received two awards for radio/video production and has presented and trained at events in Europe and the US.

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.

Caithlin Mercer, associate director, Journalism Fellowship programme, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

Before joining the Reuters Institute, Caithlin was UK managing editor at Yahoo! where she spearheaded audio innovation, creating eight new podcasts across News, Sport, Entertainment and Finance verticals that drove a combined 1.7m listens. She also worked for The National in Abu Dhabi and GLAMOUR magazine in South Africa.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The programme is supported by United Robots and Utopia Analytics.

Cecilia Campbell, chief marketing officer, United Robots, said: "Newsroom innovation is absolutely vital to create relevant local journalism that truly serves the community. We believe innovation and creativity should be fostered in all journalists, in all newsrooms, and we’re proud to be part of this new mentoring programme to support that effort."

Mari-Sanna Paukkeri, CEO of Utopia Analytics, said: "Utopia wants to support innovation. Our solutions moderate user comments in real time, leaving humans to define their publishing strategy. Utopia protects publisher's brand against toxic comments and increases reader engagement by making real-time publishing of comments possible and safe."

About is a Brighton-based independent media company that has been providing news coverage on the media industry since 1999. Our industry-recognised content has made one of the world’s leading sites for coverage of the latest trends in digital publishing. In addition to news coverage, is also the leading advertiser of journalism-related jobs, events and training courses in the UK.

About the supporters

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.

Contact Name:
Marcela Kunova
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Contact Phone:
07594 197 175
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