Birmingham Press Club hosts debate on future of media

As Trinity Mirror mulls major cutbacks at its Midlands titles – Birmingham Press Club is hosting a debate on what the future holds for media in the region, here is their press release:

Birmingham Press Club is is to host a major debate into what the future holds for the region’s media.

The event has been sparked by recent upheavals in the newspaper and television industry in the city.

At Trinity Mirror, the city’s main local newspaper group, a massive restructuring programme has been announced which will see more emphasis placed on ‘online’ output. As part of the restructuring, 65 jobs are being lost.

At ITV, swingeing cuts to local news output has seen the East and West Midlands regions of ‘Central News’ merged, a move which will threaten more jobs.

Both these shake-ups have led to many commentators questioning whether the media boom in the region is now over, and whether the city is set to become merely an outpost for journalism, rather than a major centre.

Birmingham Press Club, which is sponsored by Royal Mail, has decided to tackle the issue head on, by holding a debate at Austin Court, Brindleyplace, on 20 November, entitled: ‘Does the regional media have a future?’

The debate, chaired by former broadcaster Peter Tomlinson, will feature a panel drawn from TV, radio and the newspapers.

The panel will include the editors of both of the city’s leading newspapers, Marc Reeves of the ‘Post’ and Steve Dyson of the ‘Mail’, and also Anita Wright, managing director of Global Radio Midlands, which owns Heart FM.

Also on the panel will be Chas Watkin, head of BBC regional and local programmes in the Midlands.

John Lamb, chairman of Birmingham Press Club, said: ‘We are not sure where the debate will lead, but we felt, as a press club, that we should be doing something constructive in the face of massive downsizing in the industry, particularly in Birmingham.

‘The situation is not limited to news either – we also need to examine why TV drama production seems to have ended in the city, and also why local radio seems to be losing its local input and relying ever more on London produced national programmes.”

Bob Warman, the new president of the Press Club, and also one of ITV’s longest serving regional news anchormen, said it was the right time to hold such an important debate.

‘The ITV announcement and similar activity at Midland Regional Newspapers serves to emphasis the parlous state of the media in this region,’he said.

‘It is right that we should create a platform to express our anxiety and explore solutions, and the November event will go some way towards achieving that.”

The 20 November date is free to all who wish to attend. As well as analysing the current state of affairs, the event will also look back at how the various strands of the media have developed in the city during the past 20 years or so

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