Coventry University debates the death and rebirth of local journalism

With scores of local paper titles disappearing and local radio stations increasingly becoming franchises of super brands, it’s been looking like the end of genuine local journalism for some time.

24 hour newsBut now Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is flying the flag for local news with 20 new Local TV stations set to go live in major urban areas, with more promised, thanks to a £40m kick-start from the BBC Licence fee.

So is local journalism in its death throes, or will local TV and the increasing application of modern media platforms breathe new life into this casualty of modern consumerism? Coventry University is asking these question at two debates being staged in London and Coventry, as part of the ‘Coventry Conversations’ series.

On Tuesday 27 March, Coventry University London Campus has invited a group of media specialists and journalists to discuss whether death is inevitable or if local journalism can re-energise itself to find new audiences on new platforms. This debate also marks the publication of the book ‘What Do We Mean By Local?’ co-edited by Coventry University’s John Mair.

On Wednesday 28 March, Coventry University’s Ellen Terry Building will host a discussion looking at the prospect of Local TV, whether it will succeed in its bid to be a window on our local lives or fall flat and fold. This event will be opened by Coventry University Vice Chancellor, Professor Madeleine Atkins, and will be attended by potential bidders and some already casting their lot into the Local TV bandwagon.

Coventry Conversations’ coordinator and Senior Lecturer in Journalism, John Mair said: “We are all consumers of local news and we all have opinions on how good or bad our regional providers are. These two events will look at the way local journalism has been challenged over the years and the need for change if it is to survive. I hope people will take the opportunity to be part of, what promise to be, two extremely lively debates.”

If you wish to attend the Coventry University London Campus event on Tuesday 27 March, 6.00pm for 6.30pm, please book in advance if possible by visiting here.

Tickets are £5 and include a glass of wine.

The event at Coventry University’s Ellen Terry Building on Wednesday 28 March, 1.00pm to 4.00pm, is free and requires no pre-booking.

For more information contact: [email protected] 07785 378 156


Tuesday 27 March 6.00pm for 6.30pm until 8.15pm
‘What do we mean by local? Local Journalism: its death and rebirth’
East India House, 109-117 Middlesex Street, London E1 7JF
(2mins walk from Liverpool Street station)


Chair:  IAN REEVES, Kent University Centre for Journalism & former Editor UK Press Gazette
Panel:  CHRIS OAKLEY, former CEO Midland Independent Newspapers, Regional Independent Newspapers
NEIL FOWLER, Nuffield College Oxford, former Editor Newcastle Journal, Derby Evening Telegraph
TOM O’BRIEN, Founder My Muswell Hill

Wednesday 28 March 1.00pm to 4.00pm
‘Will (and can) Local TV work?’
Jordan Well, Coventry, CV1 5RW


Opening: PROF MADELEINE ATKINS, Vice Chancellor Coventry University
Chair: KEVIN MARSH, former Editor BBC Radio 4’s Today programme

Speakers include:

BARNIE CHOUDHURY, Lincoln School of Journalism
STEVE HEWLETT, The Guardian/ The Media Show, BBC Radio 4
SIMON BUCKS, Sky News Tyne & Wear
DAVID HAYWARD, Head BBC Local TV experiment 2006
SHAUN HIDES, Coventry University
DEBRA DAVIS, City TV Broadcasting
GARRY KELLY, ABC 4330 Birmingham Alabama local TV station