Elizabeth R Media Fund: Judging panel named

Posted by Nigel Baker

A distinguished panel of judges, covering a wide spectrum of media expertise, has been announced by the Elizabeth R Media Fund’s inaugural Commonwealth Digital Challenge.

The panel, drawn from India, Canada and South Africa, has combined experience of the management of digital business, digital content production and media best practices and ethics.

The competition is a new venture by the Elizabeth R Media Fund aimed at providing young, and aspiring, media managers from the Commonwealth with the skills necessary to help their organisations face the digital challenges in their countries. 

The judges

Gulshan Verma - a mobile and online industry expert with 15 years’ experience in building profitable business channels. As Chief Revenue Officer of Times Internet, India’s largest digital product company, Gulshan is responsible for driving the entire revenue channel for the group. He plays a pivotal role at Times Internet in accelerating India’s digital transformation with its brands and platforms across languages and age groups. He also leads business development and strategic partnerships for the group. In addition, Gulshan has worked with Yahoo!, Outbrain, McKinsey & Co and The Associated Press across Europe, North America and Asia. 

Pat Perkel - executive director of The National NewsMedia Council of Canada – a voluntary self-regulatory body overseeing ethics in most of the country’s English-language print and digital media.  She is also editor of YourCommonwealth, a website for emerging writers and youth leaders to exchange perspectives on current events and issues. Pat previously dealt with journalists and journalism issues internationally during a term as executive director of the Commonwealth Journalists’ Association. She spent 30 years as journalist in Ontario, reporting for print, broadcast and the new digital platforms on a vast array of stories.

Viasen Soobramoney - head of digital content and assistant editor, business, of Independent Media of South Africa – a leading multi-platform content company. He is a multiple, award-winning journalist with 12 years’ experience across different media. He is a former Vodacom Journalist of the Year (National) and the founder of Africa's first mobile journalism newsroom. He specialises in corporate and strategic communication and digital convergence, where he integrates various media to convey strong strategic messaging.  Viasen has represented South Africa and his media organisation at several international gatherings of the news media and is a regular media trainer and speaker.

Excellent Panel

“We are delighted that the Elizabeth R Media Fund has attracted such an excellent panel of judges for the first Commonwealth Digital Challenge," says Nigel Baker CEO of the Thomson Foundation. "Gulshan, Pat and Viasen will bring an outstanding mix of digital business skills, media standards expertise, digital content creation and journalistic integrity to the judging task.’

The Elizabeth R Media Fund

The fund is a re-branding for the Elizabeth R Broadcasting Fund which was set up in 1995 to assist the development of broadcasting skills in the Commonwealth. It was established with a donation from Buckingham Palace out of royalties from “Elizabeth R”, the 1992 BBC documentary which marked the 40thanniversary of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

The competition

Commonwealth Digital Challenge entrants have been asked to submit an initial 400-word statement outlining a particular digital challenge posed to their organisation, or media sector in their country, together with a potential business case for how it could be addressed. 

Twenty applicants will be invited to take three on-line modules in digital skills and newsroom management from the Thomson Foundation’s new, online “Journalism Now” programme.

The most successful of the 20, in the opinion of the judges, will be invited to spend a week’s intensive study of UK media organisations in London, during the week of the Commonwealth Summit in London, in April, 2018 – with all expenses paid.  It will be followed by mentoring by Thomson Foundation consultants for 12 months.



Competition deadline

Applicants must submit their initial entries by midnight GMT on Friday, November 3rd, 2017.



How to enter

Applicants to the Elizabeth R Media Fund must be citizens of a Commonwealth member country, excluding the UK. Entries must be submitted in English. The competition is open to journalists and media managers aged between 28 and 35 on April 1st, 2018.

Use the entry form to apply. Visit the Competitions section to learn more. For queries relating to your application, email:


Nigel Baker

Nigel Baker

Chief Executive

About: Nigel has overall responsibility for the delivery of the foundation’s programmes and budgets, as well as advising its board of trustees on strategy. His background is in the news industry, both as a journalist and as a manager of international news agencies.

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