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Major debate on future of Midlands media

Senior industry figures in the West Midlands are to debate the future of the region’s media after it was rocked by a series of job cuts.

Among those on the panel will be Birmingham Post editor Marc Reeves and Birmingham Mail editor Steve Dyson.

The region has been hit in recent weeks by a series of editorial cuts across a range of media organisations.

In August, Trinity Mirror announced plans to shed 65 jobs at its Midlands titles including the Post and Mail, Coventry Telegraph and sister weekly titles.

Meanwhile, cuts at ITV have seen its East and West Midlands regions of Central News merged.

And earlier this week the Midland News Association, publisher of the Wolverhampton-based Express and Star, revealed it wants to merge two companies and lose around 135 staff.

Next month’s debate – ‘Does the regional media have a future?’ – is being organised by the Birmingham Press Club.

Operations director Phil Parkin said: “We’ve had an awful lot of interest from people saying they’re coming, not just newspaper people but across TV and radio too.

“There’s a lot of worry that Birmingham is falling into retreat.”

Press Club chairman John Lamb added: “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.”

The debate will be chaired by former broadcaster Peter Tomlinson and the panel will also include Chas Watkin, head of BBC local programmes in the Midlands, and Anita Wright, MD of Global Radio Midlands which owns Heart FM.

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.

He added: “The ITV announcement and similar activity at Midland regional newspapers serves to emphasis the parlous state of the media in this region.

“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 debate will also look at how the media has developed in Birmingham during the past two decades.

It starts at 6pm on November 20 at Austin Court, in Cambridge Street, Birmingham – admission is free and non-members are also welcome.

For more information and to reserve a place e-mail info@birmingham-press-club.co.uk or visit the Press Club website.