Special university-media relationship can help drive the future of journalism
I was heartened to read the news that heralds the return of the Lancashire Post to Preston city centre in an innovative collaboration with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).
As a former news reporter myself at the Lancashire Evening Post, when it was a part of the fabric of the city some years ago with an office in the centre of Preston, this all makes sense.
This means we get the journalists, photographers and editors back moving around the city, and it means our local community just expanded with a new dynamic.
This rang out as a piece of positive news to me at a time of unprecedented change in our media eco-system.
Heart of the community
The move feels like a great partnership between the city’s daily newspaper and a university which has reinvented itself with its stunning new buildings and facilities as part of an inspiring renaissance which is helpings to put Preston the map as a serious university city.
In essence, the Post is now becoming part of our city community again. It is a community made up of a diverse mix of people and organisations including businesses large and small, social groups, students, homeowners, politicians and consumers. A mix of people of all kinds which makes it a diverse and vibrant place, doing well in challenging times.
This is where we used to get our stories when I worked at the LEP. Talking to people who would come into the front reception of the LEP offices in Fishergate, attending council and committee meetings, spending time talking to services including the police, fire and ambulance, and meeting people over the occasional pint.
We were visible and accessible to all, and this is important at a time when many pockets of the community feel isolated and unheard. It is also interesting to see such a move when many organisations are switching to a full-time home working model.
At the same time as delivering a media product, we are reminded of how these two organisations encourage innovation and new thinking for the future. The creation of this working model is testament to their fresh thinking.
Dr François Nel, of the Media Innovation Studio at UCLan, said at the launch of the new partnership: “There is no doubt this strong industry-academic partnership has been key to why The Guardian University Guide 2023 shows we remain amongst the very best. We are ranked number one in the North West and amongst the top 20 nationally for journalism and publishing.
“Our relationship has also fed into the pioneering and ongoing innovation at the LEP and the wider organisation. Having those colleagues as neighbours will no doubt ensure we all remain at the cutting-edge of our fields and relevant to the communities we serve.”
A digital-led media world helps the speed of communication and having the foundation for more community relationships can add value to the Post’s offer.
Creating the world-class journalists of the future
Preston has a rich media heritage with journalism taught in Preston since 1962, making it the oldest university programme in England and UCLan’s special relationship with the Lancashire Post goes back at least that far.
This partnership will no doubt enable essential new thinking around journalism and the media, which can help create the world-class journalists of the future.
Relationships at the heart of it
Ultimately, the presence of the Post in the city will enable its staff to foster closer relationships with many of the people who create stories and have something to say. They all have a story to tell.
These relationships develop over time and cannot be replaced. In the media, as in many areas of business such as ours in public relations, relationships are at the heart of what we do.
We look forward to catching up with some familiar and new faces in the months and years to come. Welcome back to the city!