Today I attended a Communities Day at the Birmingham Post and Mail offices at Fort Dunlop and there’ll be more blog posts to come based on the events of the day. But, first up is this one…
Part of the day, hosted by the Birmingham Mail‘s Paul Bradley, involved a tour of the shiny new offices at Fort Dunlop, Birmingham, right up on the sixth floor with an excellent view across the city and Google-esque hot desk space and cafe area.
What struck me most since my visit to the newspaper’s former offices in the city centre about five years ago is how few staff there are in comparison. The Birmingham Post, for example, is just one desk’s worth of people and Paul Bradley said the company isn’t currently replacing journalists if they leave. Sad times, but totally reflective of the newspaper industry as a whole, which is seeing less people produce more. My journalist buddies back in the shire report a never-ending stream of leaving dos thanks to cuts, redundancies and reorganisation.
On a more positive note though, the sixth floor – which houses the Birmingham Mail, Birmingham Post and Sunday Mercury – have an impressive filming and editing suite where they conduct and edit video. All reporters are trained in video – some like it, some don’t. And as well as the more shiny, edited content that features regularly on their website, reporters are armed with phones that capture video for when a moving image paints a better picture than a still one or where a video interview will capture more emotion than the printed word. And who wouldn’t praise the flexibility of the iPhone which certainly saved my bacon last week when a video camera packed up on me and I resorted to AudioBoo instead. Phew!
So, what’s really excellent is the way the Birmingham Mail is interacting with local bloggers, call them citizen journalists if you like, to report the issues that matter to them. Not seen as competition, these hyperloc
al bloggers are viewed as “the new reporters on the
patch” and get credit for their stories and links back to their sites. It really is inspiring to see a newspaper embrace the changing times and make it work for them and the local community; everyone benefits. But this is worthy of a blog post all of its own so I’ll leave you with a couple of images from the day.
Oh, and I almost forgot, I got to meet my tutor and a couple of fellow MA students today; this higher education malarky is starting to feel more real by the minute. And the hard work starts next week!