Darren Thwaites

Darren Thwaites


  • Senior Lecturer in Media Communication & Public Relations, SACI Art

Personal profile

Academic Biography

Darren is a former publishing executive and editor-in-chief with over 20 years' experience leading teams through transformational change. He now provides training and consultancy services in media, communications and leadership.

Darren has led multiple news titles across the UK, including the Manchester Evening News, Britain's biggest regional news brand.

He joined Teesside University in 2024 as a Senior Lecturer, specialising in journalism, public affairs, PR, marketing and brand development. Darren has also called on his industry experience and academic research to create professional development programmes in inclusive leadership, emotional intelligence and effective communication. 

Darren was a key figure in UK print media's transition from print to digital pubishing models, launching award-winning hyperlocal sites in the Noughties and leading a pioneering digital newsroom in Newcastle 10 years ago.

He went on to steer the Manchester Evening News to the highest audience figures ever recorded in regional media, reaching 18m users a month. 

Darren was a trustee of the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund, which raised and distributed more than £20m to bereaved families and survivors of the Arena bomb in 2017. He was also a trustee of the Greater Manchester Mayor's homelessness charity and We Stand Together, an organisation promoting community cohesion in the city. He's a former trustee of The Sunshine Fund, which provides vital equipment for disabled children in the North East.

A former chairman of the Northern region of the Society of Editors, Darren was one of the founders of Power up the North, a levelling-up campaign which brought major UK publishers and regional news brands together to fight for fairer funding. 

Darren has hosted and taken part in many conferences in his journalism career. He chaired live public debates with GM Mayor Andy Burnham and recently quizzed Gary Neville at the Sunderland Business Forum. 

He was a guest speaker at the Institute of Medical Ethics conference in 2021 to discuss media trust issues and has been a panellist and speaker at UK Society of Editors' conferences. 

Darren hosted the Pride of Britain awards at regional events in Newcastle and Manchester, bringing together celebrities and community heroes.

His publishing teams have won multiple awards for powerful social campaigning, from exposing slum landlords to uncovering police secrecy. 

An industry adviser to the National Council for the Training of Journalists, he has been instrumental in shaping newsroom skills in the transition from print to digital journalism. 

Darren's work with Teesside University dates back to his time as editor of the Evening Gazette (2005-11), during which time he worked with academics at the university creating a groundbreaking Multimedia Journalism degree course.