WAN-IFRA launches a new programme in the Middle East to drive newsroom transformation towards reader revenue success

2021-02-09. A programme tailored to pioneering Middle Eastern newsrooms, the Newsroom Transformation Programme 2021 will be launched on May 18, 2021.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

by Mechthild Schimpf | February 9, 2021

Ten selected news publishers across the Middle East will be able to speed up the transformation of their newsrooms to ensure they are both audience-centric and sustainable. The programme will provide intensive coaching, training and mentoring over three months to senior editorial and commercial participants.

The participants will be drawn from the 10 news organisations which are selected from applications by WAN-IFRA members in the region. A formal call for applicants will go out next week.

WAN-IFRA and Facebook have partnered to launch the new initiative. Mechthild Schimpf, Director Middle East of WAN-FRA said: “All over the world, newsrooms are having to transform to stay relevant and sustainable – and not only because of COVID-19. We are delighted that through this partnership with Facebook, we can be a catalyst and help news publishers in the region develop the skills and generate ideas to move their newsrooms and products to the next level.

Facebook is committed to ensuring traditional news outlets can create thriving digital businesses. Our partnership with WAN-IFRA to bring the Newsroom Transformation Programme 2021 to the Middle East reinforces these efforts that support the news ecosystem in the region,” said Mohamed Omar, Strategic Partner Manager, News Partnerships Middle East, and North Africa at Facebook.

 The programme will focus on 4 key themes topics:

  • Understanding waves of disruption to news media. Participants will learn to plan, lead and manage transformation while building a culture of innovation in the newsroom;
  • Developing an integrated editorial and business vision for the news organisation and a content portfolio that supports the needs of different revenue streams (including advertising);
  • Defining target audiences and planning audience development for acquisition, activation, engagement and retention. It will focus on new product development in cooperation with relevant parts of the organisation;
  • Identifying the new operational skills and capabilities needed to deliver the editorial It will equip participants to plan new workflows and adjust newsroom resources to execute on a new strategy.

Co-leaders of the programme will be:

George Brock is a former Managing Editor of The Times (London) and Professor of Journalism at City, University of London. He has been president of the World Editors Forum and served on the board of the International Press Institute. He is the author of Out of Print: Newspapers, Journalism and the Business of News in the Digital Age. He was co-leader of the Newsroom & Business Transformation Asia 2020, also set up by WAN-IFRA and Facebook.

Gregor “Greg” Waller is a globally active media consultant focused on both business and editorial elements of digital transformation. Greg Waller holds a MBA in strategic management with Prof. Dr. Ebers (former Associate Professor of Professor Michael E. Porter, Harvard). He worked for Axel Springer as Head of Strategy & Innovation and member of the board of WELT & regional quality papers. He introduced Axel Springer’s first paywalls in 2009. As a core-member of the corporate Premium Content task force he shaped the premium content strategies for BILD and WELT.


Mechthild Schimpf, Director Middle East WAN-FRA. email:

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