New team hits the ground running with Reach Black Country launch
A team of Black Country natives have come together to form an ambitious digital news project in the region.
The area — formed of Dudley, Walsall, Sandwell and Wolverhampton — is seen as a huge opportunity for Reach PLC and the launch of Black Country Live follows new websites in Leeds, Edinburgh and Belfast.
The new venture has no shortage of Black Country nous — as the five- strong team all have strong links to one of the four boroughs.
The team works out of an office in Willenhall, in the middle of the area which has a population of more than 1 million.
Senior reporter Kelly Ashmore has joined from Dudley News, bringing with her expertise, a plethora of contacts and a trusted reputation.
Kelly now writes about all four Black Country boroughs, as well as running the new DudleyLive Facebook page and heading up court coverage.
Fellow senior Jordan Coussins brings a wealth of experience of reporting about Walsall, having previously been a reporter at the Walsall Advertiser.
Jordan, who joined from DerbyshireLive, is a live news specialist and brings with him valuable Reach PLC experience.
Dudley born and bred Charlotte Regen joins as a trainee, having previously worked at news agency Caters.
Charlotte is a passionate advocate of the Black Country and the team’s video specialist.
Oprah Flash, from Wolverhampton, started her training in journalism at university and after writing for niche publications in recent years has broken into news.
Trainee reporter Oprah will have a particular focus on what’s on coverage as well as evergreen content.
Publisher Graeme Brown originally hails from Oldbury, in Sandwell, and is part of the management team at BirminghamLive.
Graeme said: “Since launching Black Country Live in November, we’ve been making big strides in developing a news brand that people can not only trust but enjoy in the Black Country.
“This task has been made a lot easier because the team is packed full of enthusiasm for this part of the world, and no small amount of expertise.
“We’ve spent a lot of time listening. This isn’t about telling people what we think is the news but genuinely starting something from scratch and listening to the people of the Black Country to create something that will be valued and that will last.
“We’ve been thrilled with the start — we are yet to miss a target and thousands more people every month like the BlackCountry Live Facebook page, where we bring the latest news on the area as well as celebrating a unique place with the best people in the world.
“We’re becoming established in this part of the world — but also beyond. Black Country is a state of mind — it never goes away — so we are also attracting loyal readers from as far afield as Los Angeles and Sydney who haven’t forgotten their roots.”
It’s been a whirlwind start for Black Country Live with a series of viral successes including a video report about orange chips — a regional delicacy — which reached more than 500,000 people — and 12 Days of Black Country Christmas, seen by more than 700,000.
Black Country Live is not only on Facebook but also Twitter, Instagram and wi th a dedicated section on the BirminghamLive site.
The launch came ahead of another new Reach PLC site — Lancs Live, due to go live in the next fortnight