Fergus Bell

Founder & CEO • Fathm • Guildford, England
Last edited January 3, 2020

Fergus Bell is the founder and CEO of Fathm, an independent news lab and consultancy. He is an experienced journalist, editor and leading expert in digital newsgathering, verification, newsroom innovation and collaborative journalism projects.

Fergus’ experience spans both the business and editorial sides of the news industry. He spent eight years at the Associated Press, where he became their first International Social Media and UGC Editor. He then headed up newsroom partnerships and innovation for digital newsgathering start-up, SAM Desk.

In 2015, Fergus founded Dig Deeper Media and advises broadcasters, publishers and start-ups on social and digital newsgathering, newsroom transformation and innovation.

In 2017, he co-founded Pop-Up Newsroom, a framework for collaborative journalism projects that has already seen success in the US, UK, India, Sweden and with the multi-award winning “Verificado” — an initiative designed to monitor for misinformation during the Mexican elections. In 2019 Pop-Up Newsroom was a core architect and partner of India’s ground-breaking Checkpoint initiative that innovated heavily with WhatsApp to tackle misinformation in the world’s largest election.

Fergus has been a Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellow and is a graduate of the University of Leeds.

Candidate Lightning Talk

Describe why ONA members should vote for you. What skills you would bring to the ONA Board?

Journalists everywhere are facing similar challenges and with a membership as broad as the ONA we are best placed to help each other find solutions. I want to see all fellow members – wherever they are based and whatever level of role they are in – supported through ONA’s first class programmes like the Women’s Leadership Accelerator and for us to explore new, highly focused opportunities and initiatives.

As a journalist and as the founder of Pop-Up Newsroom and CEO of a company that works only within the news industry, my experience with newsrooms, funders, collaborations, large project design and running big budget initiatives would add capacity to the work of the ONA. Hopefully we can extend its reach to those places where help, learning and specialist support is now needed.

The safety of journalists and the continuing threat to press freedom is a concern for us all – and an important mission that the board needs to stay focused on. I would also like to help strengthen the ONA’s efforts to specifically recognise the needs of the LGBTQ+ community within our industry. The work of ONA to bring gender parity to our workplaces and support our next generation of leaders has been incredible. I also believe that there is room for a strong network of allies to support those in our community and I would love to have the chance to explore how this might be realised.

I’ve worked as a radio reporter, a TV journalist and producer, a writer and as one of our industry’s first UGC editors. I now help newsrooms with their strategy and run a global collaborative journalism initiative to solve large-scale, urgent challenges that journalists in many corners of the world are facing. My day job also means that I get to work with technology start-ups and the biggest technology platforms on innovation, projects and training.

I have a lot to offer you as a board member. I would fully leverage what I have learned and the contacts that I have made to support ONA’s members and its talented, dedicated staff to deliver the clear vision that this wonderful organisation has for digital journalism.

The ONA – as an association and a collection of outstanding people – has been an incredible support to my career and my daily working life. If you vote for me I will do everything in my power to make sure that it is the same for you.