Birmingham Press Club to stage debate on the Midlands media crisis

Birmingham Press Club is to host an emergency debate about the future of the region’s media, in the wake of closures and cuts throughout the industry.

The debate, to be chaired by former television presenter Llewela Bailey, will take place on Monday 13 July at Austin Court, Cambridge Street (near the ICC).

Press Club chairman John Lamb said the debate was being staged at short notice in the light of cuts on weekly papers in the Birmingham area and rumours about the future of  the city’s premier daily newspapers, the Post and the Mail’.

The rumours surfaced last week on the web site of the National Union of Journalists, which claimed to have seen internal documents predicting the demise of a number of Trinity Mirror weeklies, and also the possible emasculation of the ‘Post’ to a weekly insert in the ‘Mail’.

Trinity Mirror has since confirmed that nine of its regional weeklies are to shut, threatening up to 94 jobs.

John Lamb said that these cuts, combined with similar measures hitting the region’s TV and radio news output, were a serious matter on a number of levels.

He said not only would the cuts result in job losses, but the overall effect would be to pose a serious threat to the credibility of the whole of the region’s news media.

“We have to ask ourselves, ‘what is happening to the media in Birmingham?’ Is part of the city’s heritage being dismantled?’”

“If the answer to that is ‘yes’, then we need to highlight the danger before it is too late and it is right that the Press Club should promote a forum to bring these issues to the fore.

“With regard to this week’s rumours about the future of the ‘Post’, this is particularly worrying. The newspaper has been in daily print since 1857, and is an indispensable part of Birmingham’s heritage and in particular its business life.”

The panel will feature a number of leading media commentators, including Chris Bullivant, founder of the ‘Observer’ group of newspapers in the Midlands who has expressed an interest in buying the ‘Post’, former ‘Post’ editor Nigel Hastilow and Chris Morley, regional organiser for the National Union of Journalists and a former industry correspondent of the Birmingham Mail.

The debate follows a successful event hosted by the Press Club last November, which was titled ‘Does the regional media have a future?’

It is hoped that the latest debate will attract a similar large audience. The latest debate is being supported by Royal Mail, the Press Club’s overall sponsor.

Further updates on the debate can be found on the Press Club’s web site (www.birmingham-press-club.co.uk)

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