The Future of the Regional Press Conference and the old newspap-are newspap-aren’t.


First of all, huge thanks to the Marketing Industry Network for hosting the event and making us wee students feel a tiny bit posh for a night.

Secondly, sorry to anybody who attended the Future of Regional Press Conference and had to end up spammed by my flipcam; I’ve never felt so overly technological in my life…

And, i’m guessing that technical aspect was what constructed my arguement when asked to talk with a students perspective by chair Richard Draycott, in front of a panel consisting of Marc Reeves, Kevin Johnson, John Griffith and Sir Bernard Zissman (sorry if i’m wrong).

The panel are held in high regard in Midlands media and in some cases even further afield; Richard is editor of The Drum, Marc is editor of the (never, ever shamelessly plugged…) BusinessDesk, Kevin Johnson is ‘the heart’ of Birmingham with UrbanComms, John Griffith is a veteran of regional journalism (and has been at The Shrophire Star, like me, but a generation apart) and Sir Bernard is definitely a pioneer and trusted battler for the newspaper.


The debate was very, very interesting. ‘Conference’ was a term shaken off with a vengeance, as to most practicing journalists this is an issue that really hits home, especially to those who have been practicing for a number of years.

The Birmingham Post was a central topic but conversation seemed to drift to the role in which newspapers play and played in a community as a whole; there was a lot of talk about the ‘parrish pump’ style of journalism, one that is often criticised, being critical to the survival of the local newspaper.

I will sum up in more detail with videos I recorded and videos online (soon to be posted by The Marketing Industry Network) the depth of conversation and the direction of debate, but for now, I’ll just point out the fact that…

Richard Draycott is a wonderful man. I was fizzing in my chair when newspaper veteran Sir Bernard told us that nobody was there to challenge local councils, politicians and organisations and hold them to account because the local newspaper was losing impact and when it was gone, nobody would be there.

The whole point of the hyperlocal blog, as Marc Reeves pointed out, is to create a sense of community and to have an outlet for instant local news. This doesn’t just mean the parish pump.

It means challenging the local council on recycling figures and kicking up a storm about West Midlands Police, messaging them and tweeting individuals representatives (like @accatwmpolice and @cipaynewmpolice, as well as @wmpolice) and trying to initate a conversation.

I used the infamous quote that Paul told us earlier this year; a newspaper walks into a room of 500 people and shouts information, before promptly leaving. The same content online walks up to 30 people, has a more detailed, informed conversation and takes contact details.

To say that people cannot be held account in this digital age is crazy. Literally.

I’m technically still a student, and when I walked into that conference at first, technically not a professional. But I am doing more than my part to hold the organisations that matter to me to account, and many, many people are doing the same in a much more open, honest and discursive way than a local newspaper.

This was why I mentioned the fact that people assume the internet has taken over and ruined journalism.

In fact, they nailed the one detail that newspaper always avoided, and that is the communication.

The Parish Pump style was the only style that came close, and this was why I said that this was the way forward in order for newspaper and online to work hand in hand in the future.

Communication is key.

Social Capital is worth as much as capital online. For every person you talk to, you make a connection.

For every connection you make, you don’t just gain a view. You gain a whole bunch of views, and if you do it right and are impressive, a whole group of new viewers who want to make a connection.

I’ll add more, when the video is up.

But, for now, many, many thanks to Carolyne and Lyndsay at the Marketing Industry Network for the invitation and for a very well-hosted and informative event. I hope it was the success that you expected and deserved!

One Response to “The Future of the Regional Press Conference and the old newspap-are newspap-aren’t.”

  1. 1 links for 2010-05-13 « Onlinejournalismtest's Blog

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