NUJ Birmingham & Coventry Branch Local News Matters Event

Birmingham: The National Union of Journalists, Birmingham and Coventry branch, held a special event on Friday 31st of March 2017 to coincide with the wider week-long national campaign to champion local news as an essential component of society, democracy and citizenship.Tony Adams (Chair) said the event was a great success and showed how members of the branch were keen to reclaim a vital, vigorous press at the heart of the community it serves-however the deeper concerns of the large profits newspapers like Trinity Mirror and Johnston Press still make despite cuts in staff – nationally 418 jobs had been lost in newspapers in the last 17 months.Leigh Mencarini, the Coventry Telegraph’s Communities Direct editor, said readers engaged with the news in different ways in an ever-changing digital domain, and it was clear the online audience is different from their print audience, the general public contribution was pivotal as was stories from charity organisations and churches Coventry City Conservative Councillor Ken Taylor and former feature writer Peter Walters were among the guests who took part in the lively dcbate-Peter felt the Coventry Telegraph had lost touch with the city due to the increasing staff cuts and Cllr Ken Taylor was glad that local council meetings were reported and needed continued coverage.Regional organiser Chris Morley said Johnston Press still made a 20 per profit In Coventry and Birmingham, dominated by Trinity Mirror, the past year had seen some 42 journalists’ jobs lost.The salaries of the an average Newsquest reporter – £10.57 an hour – with that of the company boss,Faure Walker who earns £566.17 an hour. Chris also pointed out the award-winning stories that many members still produce and said there was still a need for journalists to lead the public debate,not just follow and give more of what people appeared to want.Branch deputy chairwoman Barbara Goulden raised the issue of a new voluntary website she and three semi-retired journalists were now producing in a bid to support Coventry’s bid to become City of Culture in 2021.They site aims to offer theater news and reviews on plays and shows throughout Coventry and Warwickshire, both those produced professionally and others from some 14 amateur dramatic companies. They are offering the reviews to any evening and weekly paper that would like to take them.

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