New papers do battle in Brum

Interesting piece on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme this morning – two new newspapers are to launch in Birmingham this week.  The first will which will see the light of day tomorrow, 22 April, is Birmingham Post Lite, from Trinity Mirror, the publishers of The Birmingham Post.  This may, of course, herald the next stage of the descent of this once mighty regional title.  More likely, however, it is a spoiler for the more interesting initiative.

On Friday, Chris Bullivant will launch a new daily, The Birmingham Press.  The paper – he promises 128 pages in the launch edition – will be both sold, and free, although not on the usual model.  It will be given away in different areas each day, as a taster, and sold thereafter.

More innovative still, there will be no physical offices.  All journalists will work from home.  Subbing and page make up will also be done from the chief subs’ back bedroom.  As a result, the annual running costs will be just £1m a year.  Nonetheless, Bullivant promised that he would be spending £4,000 a week on journalists ‘mainly freelances’.  The result would be a product that he promised would ‘change regional newspapers’.

Professor Tim Luckhurst poured cold water on the idea, and suggested that the amount of hard reporting of courts and council meetings that would be on a par with other free sheets.

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