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Local democracy reporter quits regional daily to head up independent rival

Kate KnowlesA local democracy reporter has quit a regional daily to head up an independent publisher’s expansion into the city she covers.

Kate Knowles, pictured, has announced the launch of the Birmingham Dispatch following her departure from the Birmingham Mail last month.

The Dispatch is a sister title to Mill Media publications the Manchester Mill, Liverpool Post and Sheffield Tribune.

It is named in homage to defunct newspaper the Birmingham Evening Despatch, which merged with the Mail in 1967 and is known to modern audiences for featuring in the BBC drama Peaky Blinders.

Kate took on the LDR role – her first job in the regional press – in May last year and left last month.

Speaking to the i, she has pledged to publish content on the online-only Dispatch that is “less tabloid and more in-depth – stories that get under the skin of the city”.

Kate said: “We have loads to shout about. We are the birthplace of heavy metal. We have Brutalist architecture.

“I don’t think Birmingham’s culture gets the attention it deserves.”

The project is being funded by a £350,000 investment in the Mill network by a series of benfactors led by the former BBC director general Sir Mark Thompson, now chief executive of CNN.

Mill founder Joshi Herrmann said: “I wanted to show that this kind of journalism would be well-received, that people would enjoy it and pay for it and engage with it.”

The Mill, which began in Manchester during the 2020 Covid lockdown, now has 2,584 members who pay around £7 per month for subscriptions via the Substack newsletter platform.

Sister titles The Post in Liverpool and The Tribune in Sheffield between them have another 3,000 paying members.