There’s an energy in local newsrooms once again — that’ll keep us relevant
Marc Reeves, editor in chief for Reach in the Midlands, says there is a new vibrancy in local news as the industry shakes off its ‘grey cardigans’
Which story from your newsroom will you remember most from 2018 and why?
When we launched BirminghamLIve as a new brand, it was important that we defined what it stood for through story selection and campaigns. Brum is nothing if not a caring city, so social issues were put at the top of the agenda, and we appointed Annette Belcher as our first Homelessness Reporter. Her people-centred stories really brought the issue home to people throughout the year.
Looking around the regional press, can you point to something from another newsroom which stands out to you? What was it and why?
In a year when everyone was blaming Facebook for denting audience numbers, StokeOnTrentLive showed just how tone, thoughtfulness and really knowing a community from the inside could counter anything thrown at them by fickle algorithms.
What did you learn in 2018 about local journalism which you’ll remember?
It has a new vibrancy and confidence — it’s finally learning to assert its values and contribution to society — and no longer letting the grey cardigans define its story. That energy is what will keep it fresh and relevant.
If you had one tip to share with other editors about being an editor in 2019, what would it be?
Your successor is working in your newsroom right now. Find them and give them all the support and space they need to become a better leader than you are. The industry needs them.
What do you hope will happen in 2019?
The unparalleled reach and trustworthiness of local media brands is better appreciated by ‘brand safe’ obsessed advertisers and agencies and our commercial fortunes strengthen as a result.
What will you be looking for in new reporters when recruiting in 2019?
Confidence, sass, flexibility and a mission to change the world.
How would you sell your newsroom to someone thinking about applying for a job in 2019?
In Birmingham, the office is within walking distance of 148 pubs and bars.
What’s the most memorable thing to have happened in/around your newsroom this year?
This, just this:
And that seems a suitable place to end the Behind Local News ‘Another year in local news’ series. Thanks Marc, and everyone else who has contributed. Happy new year!