“Wizard” Idea from Express and Star

The Wolverhampton-based Express and Star – the nation’s biggest-selling regional daily - is experimenting with augmented reality technology that enables smartphone users to turn newspaper photos into moving images on its pages. 

When viewed through a special app on a smartphone readers see interactive animations.

Deputy editor Diane Davies (pictured) said: “We were initially introduced to the idea of augmented reality at the end of last year by Creative Black Country who we work closely with regarding coverage of the arts in the region. They asked us to publicise the 100 Masters campaign (which promotes artists and creative people from the Black Country) which we were happy to do, and then demonstrated augmented reality to myself and digital editor Mike Woods asking whether we would be interested in trialing it in the Express & Star as part of the 100 Masters project.

“We jumped at the idea. The thought of additional content jumping out of our pages was very exciting,” said Diane. 

The innovation has been compared to fictional newspaper ‘The Daily Prophet’, found in the Harry Potter series of books and films, which is read by wizards and features moving images instead of still pictures.

E&S reporter Doug Wootton is coordinating the paper’s 100 Masters editorial coverage and has worked closely with the developers on the project.

Liam Smyth, 100 Masters creative producer, said: “This is an exciting first, as we have worked in collaboration with the Express & Star, the country’s biggest regional newspaper, to bring artwork into thousands of households across the West Midlands. This is what the future of media looks like and, as ever, the Black Country are leading the way in revolutionising the way we make, see and do things.”

Nervous in front of a microphone? Then let Gary allay your fears

Midlands-based broadcaster Gary Newbon – a veteran of more than 10,000 television programmes during a career spanning more than 50 years – is using his experience to launch a new business venture.

In establishing an enterprise specialising in TV training, public speaking training and voice coaching, Gary (pictured) will be passing on his secrets to business executives and professionals who dread the prospect of speaking – and even drying up – in front of live audiences. 

By using state-of-the-art television studios around the country, Gary, who has teamed up with voice coach Sylvia Cohen, will be able to take a select number of people for all-day training sessions. Sylvia is a renowned expert on body language, vocal techniques, accent and delivery.

During his impressive broadcasting career, Gary covered seven football World Cups, three Olympic Games, sparred verbally with Muhammad Ali and Brian Clough and dodged the hairdryer treatment from Sir Alex Ferguson. And he also enjoyed countless live TV encounters with giants of the sporting world, such as Pele and Chris Eubank.

“The biggest fear for many leading business executives or those with important public roles is speaking in public or to large groups of people,” said Gary. “Broadcasting holds similar apprehensions and fears – if not more so.”

“The image you portray as a representative of your organisation when you are speaking in public is crucial. It may be the only opportunity you have to deliver your message, “said Gary, who started his lifetime-in-television career working for Westward ITV in Plymouth.

He added: “In the worlds of TV and public speaking there have been howlers that have cost people their reputations, money and in some cases their jobs.

“Famous examples include Gerald Ratner’s ill judged attempt at humour with “our products are crap” comment which wiped fortunes off the jewellery company’s share value; football’s Ron Atkinson’s racist off-guarded remark in 2004 which still affects him today; the unfortunate sexist comments by football broadcasters Richard Keys and Andy Gray which cost them their jobs at Sky Sports and former Prime Minister Gordon Brown calling an elderly woman voter a “bigot,” unaware that a TV microphone was still attached to him!

“All this can be avoided if you are aware that you are never alone with a microphone.

“Another pitfall for interviewees is being doorstepped and caught unawares. I can help ease your fears in that area too,” said Gary, who can be contacted via email at enquiries@tvandspeechtraining.co.uk


  • Gary will be guest speaker at a network breakfast meeting at Hotel du Vin, Birmingham, on Thursday, 6 July. The event is organised by 7LOCO (www.7loco.com) a team of influencers, innovators and business leaders



Birmingham Press Club sponsor HSBC has launched a £1 billion lending fund to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the West Midlands, as part of a broader commitment to helping British businesses realise their ambitions for growth.

 The fund is part of a wider £10bn fund for SMEs across the UK.

 Martin Hanson, HSBC’s Regional Director for the Midlands, said: “The launch of this fund reaffirms our commitment to support the growth of West Midlands based SMEs of all sizes, from start-ups to established businesses.  We have so many ambitious businesses in our region who are keen to grow locally, nationally and internationally. This fund is all about helping those businesses make investments that will enable them to achieve their goals while stimulating our local economy and creating jobs." 

A major focus of this year’s fund is to encourage small businesses to feel confident about exploring opportunities for export.

Amanda Murphy (pictured), Head of Commercial Banking at HSBC UK, added: “SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK economy, and for many there is an opportunity and appetite to grow their business through exporting. HSBC can provide access to new trading networks for businesses of all sizes, help them to understand how they can consider exporting with confidence, and has the expertise to help businesses navigate change by being responsive, flexible and nimble.”

Halesowen-based manufacturer, photobooths.co.uk was one of the West Midlands firms to benefit from last year’s SME Fund. Photobooths.co.uk, the leading manufacturer and supplier of portable photobooth systems, secured a £600,000 finance package from HSBC to assist in the purchase of a new commercial premises to allow the company to significantly increase its business capacity.

Meanwhile, a Birmingham-based doctor’s surgery has secured a six-figure business loan from HSBC enabling it to extend and renovate its premises, creating additional space for the surgery to attend to patients. Pound Road Surgery in Druids Heath, has been providing medical assistance to local residents for more than 40 years. The HSBC finance has enabled the surgery to expand its premises, with a new extension for wheelchair access and a renovated reception. 

New city centre setting for Midlands Media Awards

One of Birmingham’s contemporary new events venues is to host this year’s prestigious Midlands Media Awards. 

The awards, organised by Birmingham Press Club to celebrate the achievements of the region’s journalists, photographers, broadcasters and bloggers, will take place at Canalside, the waters-edge facility located within The Cube, one of Birmingham’s iconic landmark buildings.

Press Club chairman Llewela Bailey (pictured) said:  “The awards are now in their 16th year and, despite the print world being embroiled in a period of major change, they continue to be a hotly-contested and much-anticipated highlight of the Press Club calendar.

“Over the years, the standard of entries has got higher and higher. So we are once more looking forward to being able to showcase the incredible professionalism of media specialists who are certainly amongst the best in the country, and are delighted to again welcome HSBC as headline sponsor.”

HSBC UK is currently building its new national head office at Arena Central in Birmingham city centre to serve its personal and business customers and by mid-2017 expects to be employing more than 3,500 staff in the city.

Oliver Wall, Head of External Affairs, Europe, said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring the Midlands Media Awards again this year. The awards highlight the true calibre of talent based in the Midlands.”

This year, seven of the 16 categories are also open to media students who are on recognised courses at universities and colleges in the region.

Entries will initially be scrutinised by a panel of professionals who will then submit a shortlist to the final judging panel. Details on how to enter the awards are on www.midlandsmediaawards.co.uk

 Ticket prices for the event are £80 (including VAT) for individuals, while tables of ten are available at £750 (including VAT).

For further information regarding the awards, sponsorship opportunities and tickets contact Lotty Harper at Milk and Mayo event management on 07815 831 554 or email lotty@milkandmayo.com

Death of Evening Mail’s former London Editor

Jack Foster, former London Editor of the Birmingham Evening Mail, has died (on 14 May) at his home in Harrogate, aged 85. He had been suffering from cancer.

During his successful career, Jack also became Political Editor at Westminster Press, a regional group which owned a chain of 60 newspapers.

Paying tribute, John Hipwood, a former Lobby Correspondent on the Express and Star, said: "Jack was a lovely man, a gentleman in every way and a great Midlands competitor. He loved sport and will have been relieved to have seen his beloved West Ham maintain their Premier League status this season. He was a great supporter too of cricket, dividing his loyalties between Essex and his home county of Yorkshire.

“His death will be a particular blow to several current members of the Press Gallery, who worked under Jack's tutelage during his time as London Editor of Westminster Press,” added John.

London-based Nevill Boyd Maunsell, who retired in 2013 as Birmingham Post Economics Editor after a near-40 year career with the newspaper, recalled: “Jack steered the London office of the Evening Mail with unfailing good sense and good humour in the mid-1970s at a time of great turbulence for the Evening Mail and its sister paper The Birmingham Post.

“Members of the National Union of Journalists in Birmingham were on strike for eleven weeks at one time, in a dispute that did not formally involve their colleagues in London. Jack handled with great aplomb the division between those who went on writing for papers produced by their editors and members of the Institute of Journalists and those who felt they should support their NUJ colleagues in Birmingham.

  “It was largely due to Jack's calm and common-sense that the bitter feuding that developed in Birmingham never spread to his London office. No mean achievement,” added Nevill.

Reg Harcourt, former Political Editor with ATV, said: “It must be 50 years since I first met Jack. We both came to Birmingham from different newspapers in Nottingham for jobs on the Evening Despatch and ended up in digs in the same big rambling house in Farquhar Road ,Edgbaston.

“We both went our separate ways when he left to work in London while I stayed on at the Despatch before joining ATV.  

“Years later our paths crossed again - in the House of Commons. Jack was in the Press Gallery while I was a less frequent visitor to the Lobby - both of us with very different deadlines.

 “But I will always remember him as a really good bloke, both socially and professionally.”

The funeral service will be at 2.20 pm on 30 May at Stonefall Cemetery and Crematorium, Wetherby Road, Harrogate, HG3 1DE

Boost for care provider after securing finance from HSBC

A Midlands-based care group has purchased two new care businesses after securing an £840,000 finance package from Birmingham Press Club sponsor HSBC. 

iBC Healthcare is one of the UK’s largest and fastest growing specialist care providers for adults with learning disabilities and mental health issues. The business, which provides support to over 160 individuals with disabilities, has used the loan from HSBC to acquire two care businesses in Birmingham and Derbyshire.

iBC Healthcare, headquartered in Leicestershire, has purchased Forward Day Services, Birmingham, which promotes independence and provides support for service users who have a variety of complex needs, and Tarry Hill Residential Service in High Peak, which offers support to people with learning disabilities & autism.

The deal will aide iBC Healthcare in responding to increased demand for health and social care facilities across the region and will also lead to the creation two new managerial roles to support the newly acquired services and provide a better experience for service users. The acquisitions also mean that iBC Healthcare now holds further contracts with Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council, Nottingham City Council, Nottinghamshire County Council and Derbyshire County Council, with the aim to attain more facilities across the UK this year.

Debbie Harper, HSBC’s Area Director for Business Banking in Coventry & Warwickshire, said: “iBC Healthcare has an outstanding reputation for service delivery within the sector and the support from HSBC will enable the group to continue to respond to the growing requirements from different local authorities and provide tailored support for a variety of complex needs.  

The funding was arranged by HSBC Relationship Director, Rakesh Patel, pictured here with Nizam Bata (left), managing director of iBC Healthcare.

Meanwhile, HSBC has also provided a loan to PKF Cooper Parry, the business advisory and accountancy firm, which went towards the fit-out of its new flagship offices at Blythe Valley, Solihull.

Roger Pratt, Area Director for Corporate Banking at HSBC in the East Midlands, said: “PKF Cooper Parry has a strong plan for growing beyond the Midlands and this new base will create the perfect platform for that expansion.”

James Parnell, Chief Financial Officer at PKF Cooper Parry, said: “We’re grateful for the financial support HSBC provided to enable the move to Blythe Valley Business Park and the creation of our fantastic new office.  

Tributes to ex-Midlands journalist who pioneered Sky Sports football coverage

A former Sports Editor of the Birmingham Evening Mail, who went on to pioneer Sky Sport’s acclaimed coverage of Premier League football, has died at the age of 73.

Vic Wakeling, who rose to become Sky Sports managing director, also worked in print journalism in the north of England and enjoyed a successful career in Fleet Street before moving into television in 1980.

John Lamb, vice-president of Birmingham Press Club and Press and PR director at Greater Birmingham Chamber, said: “I worked with Vic Wakeling on both the Birmingham Mail and in Fleet Street and he was one of the most talented journalists I knew.  I was his deputy when he was Sports Editor of the London Evening News. His professionalism and attention to detail was second to none. When the News closed Vic went into television and made a significant and lasting impression, rising to managing director of Sky News. 

“He used his innate sense of knowing what sports fans wanted to read and see to the huge benefit of Sky Television and his influence on the shape of coverage will be enjoyed for many years to come.”

Vic became managing director of Sky Sports in the autumn of 1998, with responsibilities for Sky News added in 2007, through to his retirement in 2009. At his retirement party, Rupert Murdoch, in a video tribute, spoke of a "much-loved colleague, who revolutionised sports broadcasting with breadth and depth, raising the bar for the whole country, taking the bravest of risks, he leaves behind a truly great legacy, Sky Sports, still hungry for more. It is time to take a bow, but how much you have done. It's been a pleasure and privilege to be with you. I thank you for playing a part in this truly great venture".

Vic was Sky's Head of Sport from 1994 and Head of Football from 1991.

Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports said: "Very few people have had a greater impact on sport in the UK and Ireland than Vic Wakeling. As head of Sky Sports for over 15 years, Vic's vision, belief and investment helped transform sport on pitch and off. At a time when sport was undervalued and underfunded, Vic helped create Sky Sports and with it a platform that sport deserved.

"We are truly saddened and sorry to lose a pioneer, a colleague and a friend."

Jeremy Darroch, group CEO of Sky added: "As managing director of Sky Sports, Vic Wakeling took sport from the evening bulletins and made it part of the national conversation through dedicated channels, innovative production and award-winning analysis.

"Vic's foresight and passion drove investment, interest and participation in sports at all levels and his legacy is the spectacle that sport plays in the lives of millions every day."

Premier League executive chairman, Richard Scudamore, also paid tribute, highlighting Vic’s professional and personal integrity.

He said: "All at the Premier League are so sorry to hear of Vic Wakeling's passing and our thoughts are with his family. His achievements are well documented, including the revolution he brought to the innovative ways in which sport is now broadcast.

"We will remember him just as much for the professionalism and integrity he displayed at all times and for being the most decent of people."

Vic moved into television in 1980 with TVS then moved to Mark McCormack's IMG before joining satellite channel BSB. He had been with BSkyB since its formation in 1990.

He had previously worked in print journalism in the north and midlands before moving to Fleet Street with The Observer, Daily Express, People and London Evening News.

Joining Sky Sports at its launch, Vic was one of the team who established the new service and developed its acclaimed coverage of the Premier League from August 1992.

He oversaw Sky Sports growth into a network of five dedicated sports channels - Sky Sports 1, Sky Sports 2, Sky Sports 3, Sky Sports Xtra and Sky Sports News - and three high definition channels.

His channels are renowned for their quality live broadcasts, depth of coverage and wide range of sports. He also oversaw the rise of skysports.com - the UK's most successful commercial sports site.

During his time there were numerous on-screen innovations, including bringing viewers the world's first live interactive sport, the first round-the-clock sports news channel and the move into HD broadcasting.

He won lifetime achievement awards at the 2007 Sports Industry Awards and 2008 Broadcast Awards.

In 2011, Vic was awarded a CBE in the Queen's birthday honours. The award was recognition for the role he played in revolutionising both British football and television coverage of the sport.

Vic, who died on Monday, 15 May, is survived by his widow, Susan, and four children, Sally, Rob, Caroline and Kate.


HSBC UK’s new head office in Birmingham has been officially ‘topped out’ - the ceremony marking an important milestone in the bank’s creation of its new head office at the heart of the UK.

The 210,000 sq. ft. head office at Centenary Square is due to open in January 2018 and the topping out ceremony represented the completion of the physical frame of the ten-storey building. Work has now begun on interior installations including internal walls, lift machinery and plumbing.  

HSBC UK – the main sponsor of Birmingham Press Club - is investing over £200 million in Birmingham and moving more than 1,000 head office roles to the city from London before 1 January 2019. More than half of these roles are now accounted for through a combination of people moving from London already, people moving this year, and new hires into Birmingham.    

HSBC UK is taking a 250-year lease on the new head office, which will accommodate up to 2,500 people. In addition to the 1,000 head office roles moving from London, HSBC UK already employs more than 2,500 people in the city.

Antonio Simoes, CEO of HSBC Bank plc, said: “The creation of HSBC UK’s new head office in Birmingham provides us with a once in a lifetime opportunity to build a new and better bank for our customers and people. It’s important that our new head office reflects our brand, culture and heritage and we have been working hard to create the right infrastructure and environment.

“We’re proud that our new head office will be one of the greenest buildings in Birmingham and we believe its location at the heart of the UK will help us get closer to our 17 million customers across the UK. More than half of the head office roles we’re moving from London to Birmingham are now accounted for and we’re recruiting internally and externally for the remaining roles, with more than 2,000 HSBC colleagues having already registered their interest.”

HSBC UK announced the appointment of Ian Stuart as CEO UK in February 2017. This followed the announcement of Dame Clara Furse’s appointment as non-executive chairman of HSBC UK. Both appointments remain subject to regulatory approval.

Key features of HSBC UK’s new head office include:

  • It is the first building in Birmingham to be constructed to LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) Gold accreditation, with sustainability at the heart of its design

  • The building has been designed to create a new generation of workplace fit for the future which is open, light and encourages collaboration   

  • Its external glazing is made of 25% recycled materials, with a thermal coating to increase overall energy performance

  • More than 2,000 tonnes of structural steel, 2,500 tonnes of steel reinforcements and 17,000m3 of concrete have been used in the construction of the building, with 100% of waste from the site being diverted from landfill

  • All timber is from sustainable sources that have been approved by the Forest Stewardship Council Steel, containing a minimum of 20% recycled material

  • Contractors have so far worked over 530,000 hours on site and with 90% of the team working on the building coming from within a 40 mile radius of Birmingham, the build itself is supporting the local economy.

  • The new head office building is part of the Arena Central development being delivered by ACDL, a joint venture led by Miller Developments.

  • Andrew Sutherland, joint Managing Director at Miller Developments, said: “This is a significant milestone in the delivery of this building and represents the culmination of the first phase of development. This has already become one of Birmingham’s mostly widely recognised buildings and a touchstone for the city’s inward investment potential. Work through our contractors, Galliford Try, will now continue to ensure the delivery of a truly world-class commercial environment.”


PICTURES:  HSBC UK’s new Birmingham head office…..as construction looks today and how the completed project will look in the future

MNA removes “clutter” from its online titles

New easier-to-navigate websites featuring a content management system pioneered by the Washington Post have been introduced by the Midland News Association, which has updated its online offerings of the Shropshire Star and Express and Star.

The sites are the first in the UK to be built and powered by the Washington Post’s Arc Publishing content management system, and have been in development for more than a year.

The system allows senior print reporters to upload content straight to the websites using the MNA’s editorial system Knowledge.

The development team also focused on making the sites more mobile friendly to benefit the 62pc of MNA web users who visit the newspapers’ sites using a handheld device.

Andy Hill, managing director of MNA Digital, (pictured centre with members of the development team), said: “We are really pleased with the cleaner design for  Expressandstar.com and Shropshirestar.com. I would like to congratulate my team for their work, as well as colleagues in editorial and across the business, who have completed such a significant piece of work.

“The navigation of the sites was an important part of the project that received a lot of attention. The objective was to simplify the navigation and make it easier for our readers to find the content that they are interested in.”

Andy added: “During the project we conducted extensive user research, which showed that our sites were cluttered and confusing to navigate meaning that it could be hard for a reader to find the content they are searching for.

“Offering our readers too much choice through the navigation was counter-productive. The new navigation is simple to understand and works well on a mobile as it is easy to use on a small screen. This is important because over 60% of our users access our websites using their mobile phones.”

The MNA Digital team also plan to introduce the designs to their sister Claverley titles the Jersey Evening Post and the Guernsey Press.

What a choice to have to make…

...a free drink at the Press Club’s monthly networking event or the chance to take advantage of a “one night only” 20 per cent discount on a designer fashion label!

The Club’s popular drop-in evening will take place at Edmund’s Brewhouse, Edmund Street, Birmingham, on Thursday 4 May with members meeting from 6 pm.

However, if time allows you could always pop along to the Tommy Hilfiger store at The Mailbox where the designer fashion label is offering Press Club members a 20 per cent discount as part of its Spring/Summer Fashion and Networking Event. This takes place between 5-8 pm.

The store is also offering a free monogramming service available for menswear purchases for those who want to create a truly individualised garment,

The invitation-only event is being handled by Fraser Urquhart Media and will also include complimentary catering by Tom’s Kitchen, also of the Mailbox.

To take advantage of the offer please email kevin@fu-media.co.uk before Tuesday 2 May and you will be added to the guest list

City of Culture battle sees introduction of new publication

A new magazine has been launched by The Sentinel – in support of a bid by Stoke-on-Trent to be named as UK City of Culture.

Ten other places are hoping to claim the crown in 2021 – including Coventry and Hereford.

As part of its backing, The Sentinel has launched a new magazine called The Place 2 Be, which will be distributed at public buildings across Stoke, and a new channel on its website.

Sentinel Editor Martin Tideswell said: “Whether or not the bid is successful we believe that auditing our cultural inventory and creating a positive narrative about our city is a ‘win-win’.

“Staging good quality public events, promoting brilliant local businesses and terrific entertainment venues or world-class museum collections and exhibits can only be positive and nurture a sense of pride in our patch.”

“We are extremely proud of the Potteries and its people. Like any city, Stoke-on-Trent has its challenges, but we believe it is a great place in which to live, work and invest and The Place 2 Be reflects this,” he added.


Conference to highlight issues surrounding reporting of suicides

A former East Midlands newspaper editor editor has joined forces with a charity and the press watchdog to help combat what is described as the “irresponsible reporting of suicide.”

Keith Perch (pictured), who is now head of journalism at the University of Derby, has teamed up with The Samaritans and the Independent Press Standards Organisation to raise awareness about issues surrounding coverage of such tragedies.

Keith, a former editor of the Derby Telegraph, Leicester Mercury and South Wales Echo, will to host a conference – aimed at regional journalists - on 24 April at the university.

Around 30 regional newspaper editors have signed up to attend the workshop, which will feature presentations by Lorna Fraser, media adviser at The Samaritans, and Professor David Gunnell, from the University of Bristol.

In a blog post about the conference, Keith wrote: “There is compelling evidence that irresponsible reporting of suicides by media leads to extra deaths. Get it wrong and people die.

“When I was editor of regional newspapers, I don’t think I knew this. I was vaguely aware of evidence that linked the reporting of suicide to imitative deaths in a cluster of suicides in South Wales.

“However, there is now no doubt and there is no excuse for not knowing. The increasing evidence has led to changes in the Editors’ Code of Practice which now explicitly states that 'to prevent simulative acts, care should be taken to avoid excessive detail of the method used’.

“The Samaritans have worked tirelessly in recent years to build a detailed set of guidelines for reporters on how best to cover suicide. They also offer a full media advisory service, which includes both media training and pre-publication advice. However, they find it difficult to get their message out to reporters working in local and regional media.”

The conference is open to journalists working for newspapers, or working as freelances, while academics who teach student journalists are also welcome.

It will be held at the University of Derby’s main Kedleston Road campus from 11am on Monday 24 April, and is set to let around 90 minutes – with a free lunch included. To sign up or find out more, click here.

Ex-Mail editor to re-run popular writing skills course

A former editor of the Birmingham Mail has organised another course for businesses wanting to improve their writing skills.

Steve Dyson, who now works via Dyson Media Ltd, is holding the ‘Good media writing skills’ training day in Birmingham city centre on Wednesday 14 June 2017.

Steve, who is offering a 20 per cent discount to Press Club members,  said: “We often run courses direct for clients’ businesses, but have run this ‘open course’ twice a year since 2010 in Birmingham.

“It’s always gone down well both with those new to writing and others who want to refresh their skills. The big benefit is that companies can book single spaces, getting all that knowledge for a minimum spend.”

Steve, who is also associate director of ASAP PR, added: “It’s an intensive but fun course, with a lively mix of interactive teaching and challenging exercises on style, grammar, simple language, headlines, editing, proofreading and – of course – writing.”

Previous Dyson Media delegates have included staff from Barclays Bank, BHSF, Birmingham Chamber, Birmingham City Council, Centro, Marketing Birmingham, NEC Group, Queen Elizabeth Hospital and various PR companies.

Neil Rami, chief executive of Marketing Birmingham, said: "I've always found Dyson Media’s training and advice to be of a high calibre, drawing on Steve’s vast experience."

Places on the one-day 'Good media writing skills' course cost £295 +VAT, which includes a hot lunch, snacks and tea or coffee all day.

Full details at www.dysonmedia.co.uk. To book, email steve.dysonmedia@gmail.com, or call 0781 8004575

Apprenticeship boost at BBC Three

The BBC is planning to expand its pool of up-and-coming young talent by launching a new apprenticeship and training programme for BBC Three.

The corporation, whose Birmingham base is at the Mailbox, will recruit six apprentices and six trainees for the online-only channel, parts of which are moving to Birmingham next year.

Supported by the BBC Academy, The Hub will launch in June during Digital Cities week with the aim of having the staff producing content for BBC Three by the autumn.

The Hub's newly found employees will mirror the BBC Three team and be tasked with delivering social first content as well as making short-form content.

Damian Kavanagh, who is controller of BBC Three, said: "Discovering, supporting and nurturing exciting new talent lies at the heart of everything we do on BBC Three and I'm confident this exciting new initiative will help develop and new generation of content makers."

Joe Godwin (pictured), director of the BBC Academy and BBC Midlands, added: "Birmingham is the youngest, most-diverse city in the UK and a great home for these opportunities to grow from. We're looking forward to welcoming these new roles and encouraging more of the incredible creativity the BBC Three team are winning so many awards for."

Director-general Tony Hall commented: "Finding and supporting the next generation of new talent - both on and off screen - is a vital part of the BBC's remit. It is through backing new thinking, new perspectives and taking creative risks that the BBC will not only better reflect the diversity of the country but deliver even better, more engaging and relevant programming."

Meanwhile, Birmingham looks ready and willing to help Channel 4 set up shop in the city and has offered two prime locations for a headquarters building, one of which located near the landmark Birmingham Curzon Street high speed rail station, due to open in 2026.

The city’s interest comes as the Government considers ordering the broadcaster to move out of London.

The proposals have been given a new lease of life after Culture Secretary Karen Bradley launched a consultation on the broadcaster’s future, including whether it should move out of the capital.

Channel 4 has made it clear it doesn’t want to move - but Culture Secretary Karen Bradley has said it isn’t good enough that the channel employs around 820 staff with fewer than 30 based outside central London.

A Whitehall source said: “She encourages potential new homes to come forward with ideas - and I would expect Brum to be among them.”

Local news matters to be debated in Coventry

As part of a wider national campaign to champion local news as an essential component of society, democracy and citizenship, members of the Birmingham & Coventry branch of the National Union of Journalists are holding a special event on Friday, March 31.

Branch chairman Tony Adams said: “Our local NUJ branch is striving to reclaim a vital, vigorous press that is at the heart of the community it serves and is owned and operated in the public interest and put pressure on media companies and other decision-makers who can stop the cuts and increase investment in quality local journalism.”

Meanwhile, new research has shown that more than 400 journalists’ jobs have been lost over the past 17 months, leaving more areas of the UK with no daily local newspaper coverage. A study by Dr Gordon Neil Ramsay, of King’s College, London, found that 273 local authority districts out of a total of 406 had no daily local newspaper coverage – a ratio of 67pc.

There are currently 1,103 local newspaper titles in the UK, according to the findings, which were launched in Parliament by the National Union of Journalists.

The report – entitled Mapping Changes in Local News 2015-7 - reveals a net loss of nine UK regional newspapers between November 2015 and March 2017, with 22 titles closing and 13 launching. It also highlights 30 instances of job cuts announced over a 17-month period involving the loss of 418 jobs.

In addition to the job cuts, re-organisations affected a further 83 jobs, and there were six newspaper office closures, with journalists often being moved long distances away from the communities they serve.

Acting NUJ general secretary Seamus Dooley said: “Journalism is a pillar of democracy and this survey should be of major concern to anyone who cares about local, regional or national government.”

The event is being held at the Kahawa Café in New Union Street, Coventry, from 6 pm until 8 pm.