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 To book, email, 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.


Milestone reached in award-winning weekly’s cash-raising campaign

A newspaper from Staffordshire has celebrated the success of a potentially life-saving campaign, which has seen ten defibrillators installed across its patch.

The Tamworth Herald launched its Have A Heart campaign last April, with the ambition of raising enough cash to pay for the ten devices, which can be used by members of the public when someone suffers a cardiac arrest.

The Trinity Mirror weekly – which has been named Newspaper of the Year for two years in a row at the Birmingham Press Club-organised Midlands Media Awards -  – urged readers, firms, clubs, pubs and groups of friends to raise cash for the devices.

In less than twelve months the campaign hit its target and the Herald marked the milestone with a front page (pictured) highlighting where the defibrillators would be installed.

Editor Gary Phelps said: “We were made aware of a lack of defibs last year by Keith Dawson, a local Community First Responder, and with his expertise launched the campaign to raise funds. The devices aren’t cheap – around £1,500 each – but we felt ten would be an achievable target.

“Crucially, we also asked readers to share their stories of cardiac arrest and how defibs could have helped them or their loved ones, which provided some remarkable, moving copy.”

Gary added: “Reporter Nick Reid has done a fantastic job of generating copy week-in, week-out to push the campaign. Within a few weeks donations were coming in and it just grew and grew. We’ve now hit our target of ten but we know quite a few people are still fund-raising, so there will end up being quite a few more defibs put in place.

“The campaign has raised awareness of heart issues and how to help someone who is in trouble, and by providing equipment in key places it will inevitably save lives. In fact, we know one of the defibs we provided has already been used.”

NUJ to launch campaign to protect local news

The National Union of Journalists is holding a “week of action” – from Friday 24 March until Saturday 1 April - that will champion local news as an essential component of society, democracy and citizenship.

The campaign will include a series of events in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales involving NUJ members, reps, chapels and branches from across different sectors of the media.

There’ll be events, conferences and activities taking place every day of the week and NUJ members from all parts of the local media – newspapers, online, start-ups, radio, TV, photographers and communications – are getting involved. 

Birmingham & Coventry NUJ will be staging a “local news matters” event in Room M93 at Birmingham Council House, Victoria Square, on 24 March from 6 – 8 pm. Anyone wishing to attend should e-mail for an invitation or phone 07902 185087.

MPs are being invited to take part in a Westminster Hall debate on Thursday 30 March, which will take place from 1.30 pm until 4.30 pm.

Branch chairman Tony Adams (pictured) said: “The campaign wants to galvanise our collective voice to put pressure on media companies and other decision-makers who can stop the cuts and increase investment in quality local journalism.

“It demands

  • A short, sharp, national, parliamentary inquiry into the state of local news

  • Local papers should be treated as community assets

  • New rules to prevent local media outlets from closing overnight – they should be offered to potential new owners, including local co-operatives, with the time available to submit a bid for alternative media ownership in advance of any closure

  • Action by government and employers to stem the relentless job cuts

  • Increasing investment, from a range of sources, for quality local journalism.”


How you can take part:

  • Send a 140-character message (the size of a Tweet) to say why you care about local news

  • Record a video message for the campaign

  • Send examples that show how news coverage in your area has been able to make a real difference

  • Volunteer to organise local events or activities in your area

  • Send any messages, videos, good examples, comments or feedback to the NUJ campaigns and communications department via email:

Photobooth supplier to develop new markets following cash injection

A West Midlands-based photobooth provider is set to double its workforce this year after receiving a £600,000 term loan from HSBC to assist in the purchase of new commercial premises. is the UK's leading manufacturer and supplier of portable photobooth systems to corporate clients, marketing agencies and the general public.

The company, set up in 2006 and headquartered in Halesowen, has completed the purchase of a 25,000 sq ft premises after rapid expansion saw the company’s turnover almost double last year.

The new site, which is five times bigger than the previous one, will allow to significantly increase its business capacity, allowing for further expansion into new, innovative product markets, such as Magic Mirrors and ‘smart’ dancefloors. The increased capacity also enables to realise its strategy to increase its foothold in international markets. The firm currently exports 35 per cent of its photo booths and dance floors to countries and regions including Australia, the Middle East, and Europe.

Alongside a premises expansion, the HSBC finance has enabled to hire a further 20 employees, a 50 per cent increase over the past year.

Tim Warrington, CEO & Managing Director of, said: “We are incredibly proud of our company and the growth we have achieved since we started in 2006. HSBC’s support has enabled us to continue to grow and help us enter new and exciting markets, using the latest innovative technology such as 3D printing. We are dedicated to providing our customers with the best service possible, and with our continued growth, we believe we can achieve great things in the future.”

Mark Lupton, HSBC Area Director for Business Banking in Greater Birmingham, said: “This financial support provides with the stability and confidence to realise its plans for international growth and expansion into new markets. The business has a strong vision for its future and is a great example of the kind of ambitious UK business we are able to connect with international opportunities.” also manufactures bespoke photo booths for corporate events and parties, with clients including Coca Cola, ITV, Xbox One and BBC.

The funding was arranged by Martyn Drayton, International Relationship Manager at HSBC in Greater Birmingham, who is pictured here (left) with Tim Warrington.

UK banks launch “action day” against financial fraud

Seven in ten (72%) people across the West Midlands are worried about their families falling victim to fraudsters. Yet two thirds (67%) admit they have never discussed the simple steps they can take to protect themselves and those around them from financial fraud. 

New research is released today (16 March) to mark Take Five Day - the first time all the major banks along with building societies and other financial service providers have ever joined together for a national day of fraud awareness activity.

Take Five Day is designed to encourage everyone to find out more about how they can protect themselves from financial fraud and takes place as official figures reveal that £2 million a day - almost £770 million - was lost to financial fraud in 2016.

HSBC - the main sponsor of Birmingham Press Club - is marking Take Five Day by opening the majority of its branches five minutes early and discussing fraud awareness with customers both in branches and on social media, providing Take 5 messages on its ATMs, and on its in-branch radio station.

Katy Worobec (pictured), Director of Financial Fraud Action UK, said: “Research shows that people in the West Midlands are worried about themselves and their families falling victim to financial fraud. On Take Five Day we’re encouraging everyone to talk to others and share the Take Five message - to pause and think before they respond to any financial requests or share any personal or financial details.”

Mike Finnegan, HSBC UK’s Head of Customer Experience, said: “Fraud is getting increasingly complex, with fraudsters using even more convincing and sophisticated techniques, regularly preying on vulnerable people. Talking about fraud with loved ones and the best ways of protecting yourself is an important step in reducing fraud.” 

Take Five Day is part of the Take Five campaign, launched by Financial Fraud Action UK and backed by all major banks and key financial services providers across the UK. It aims to put consumers and businesses back in control with straight forward advice to help prevent financial fraud. 

For advice on how to protect themselves from financial fraud by visiting the campaign website

Double seal of approval for University

The journalism course at the University of Gloucestershire is to be accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) from this autumn.

Students beginning the BA Journalism degree in September will be following a syllabus that will see them taking NCTJ diploma exams alongside the university's own assessments.

The three-year course – which has produced journalists now working for Sky, ITV, the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and the BBC – is already accredited by the Broadcast Journalism Training Council.

It will now become one of only a handful of undergraduate journalism courses to be accredited by both organisations.

Journalism academic subject leader Neil Leighton at the University of Gloucestershire, said: “We are hugely proud of the teaching and training that we offer, and it's very gratifying to have what is now a double of seal of approval from industry."

The NCTJ's trustees approved the university's accreditation application after a visit that featured senior figures from the regional media and BBC.

The training body has laid down requirements for teaching hours that the university must meet, with the course teaching public affairs, media law court reporting, shorthand and video journalism on top of the NCTJ's mandatory modules.

Teaching takes place in modern newsroom and studio suites as well as conventional classrooms, with university modules including a new pop culture option, as well as lifestyle journalism and advanced digital storytelling.

Budding journalists can book their place on the university's next open day, which is on Friday 30 June. Visit to book. Visit the university website for more information about BA Journalism.

Amanda’s leadership appointment

Amanda Murphy, HSBC UK

Amanda Murphy, HSBC UK

After a career that has taken her all over the world, Amanda Murphy (pictured) is relocating from London to Birmingham – to take over a leadership role with new ring-fenced bank HSBC UK.

HSBC – overall sponsor of Birmingham Press Club - currently has 2,500 employees in the city and its new bank, now under construction at Arena Central, will be completed by 2018 at the latest.

Amanda, who initially joined the bank in 1995 on the Midland Bank’s graduate training scheme, has been appointed Head of Commercial Banking, subject to regulatory approvals.

With more than 1.1 million UK customers, Amanda will be responsible for the management of one of the world’s leading commercial banks. She has more than 22 years of experience at HSBC and most recently served as HSBC’s Co-Head of Corporate Banking in the UK.  During her career Amanda has worked for HSBC in Europe, the Middle East, North America and Asia-Pacific, where she was Head of Commercial Banking in Indonesia.

Noel Quinn, CEO of HSBC’s global commercial banking, said that Amanda had a proven track record of supporting businesses, which would be invaluable to the on-going growth of commercial banking across the UK, while Antonio Simoes, CEO of HSBC Bank Plc, said he believed that the creation of HSBC UK would give them a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to build a bank that was even closer to its customers.

Chief executive named to take charge of new Birmingham-based bank

HSBC announces that Ian Stuart will become the first chief executive of HSBC UK, the new ring- fenced bank, which will be headquartered in Birmingham.

The appointment is subject to regulatory approval.

Under new rules, banks must now separate their "core" retail and business banking arms from their corporate and investment divisions by the beginning of 2019, with HSBC UK being created as a result.

HSBC – overall sponsor of Birmingham Press Club - currently has 2,500 employees in the city and its new bank, now under construction at Arena Central, will be completed by 2018 at the latest.

Ian (pictured), who is currently head of commercial banking for HSBC for the UK and Europe, started his banking career working in a small village branch in the Highlands of Scotland.

His 35-year career in financial services has spanned retail, business and commercial banking and he joined HSBC three years ago to lead HSBC’s Commercial Banking operations for the UK. His remit expanded in 2015 to include the rest of Europe.

Ian, who will be based in Birmingham, is a Business Ambassador for Meningitis Now and supports Speakers for Schools, an organisation which offers opportunities to students as they prepare for future employment.

Establishing a successful ring-fenced bank is one of HSBC’s strategic actions  

A spokesman said that the creation of HSBC UK would provide an opportunity to build a better bank for its people, customers and society.

Meanwhile, six buildings at Brindleyplace, Birmingham, have been acquired by part of HSBC Private Bank in a deal believed to be worth in the region of  £260 million.

HSBC Alternative Investments has taken ownership of 500,000 sq ft of mixed use space at the city centre development, including buildings which are home to Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, GVA and Royal Bank of Scotland.

Newspaper says US President will be welcome in Brum


If President Donald Trump visits Birmingham during his visit to England – which is what some national newspapers are suggesting –  then he’ll find a multicultural city that can teach him a thing or two about “tolerance and diversity."

At least that’s the view of the Birmingham Mail. But the newspaper might find itself at loggerheads with some of its readers who are already backing a “Dump Trump” petition.

The petition calling for the US President to be banned from Birmingham, was started by Liam Byrne, Labour MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill. But then Mail print editor Paul Cole came up with an idea for the newspaper to encourage its readers in the country’s “most multicultural city” to teach Mr Trump “a thing or two”.

Mail editor Marc Reeves told media website HTFP: “When the Sundays came out with the story about Trump’s visit to the city, we pondered the Birmingham Mail’s response for a little while. It’s a massively diverse city, so we knew our readership could be divided on the question of whether his visit would be welcomed. A local MP was quick off the mark with a ‘Dump Trump’ petition, but that didn’t feel right to us.

“After fighting our corner on the Section 40 question we thought it would be hypocritical to call for the most powerful man in the world to be prevented from talking to our readers.

“Then Paul Cole, the Mail’s print editor, came up with the line that we should welcome the president because Birmingham has much to teach him about tolerance and diversity. Once that was set everything else came together.”

Since taking office last month, Mr Trump has attracted controversy over his policies on issues including immigration, gun ownership and women’s rights.

Writing an editorial on the subject, Marc said: “We will prove you wrong, just as we proved Enoch Powell wrong after he made his Rivers of Blood speech here in April 1968. We did not agree with his views but we respected his right to express them, and welcomed the opportunity to debunk them.

“To ban your visit would be the easy option, Mr President, but it goes against the hard won freedoms generations of Brummies have battled for.

“So, yes, Mr Trump , you’re welcome to come to Brum. We have lots for you to learn…"

From “the Chad” to Downing Street

A former Midlands journalist, who began his career on a local weekly, has been named as the new official spokesman for the Prime Minister – an appointment described by one communications specialist as a “super-smart move.”

James Slack, who since 2015 has been the political editor on the Daily Mail, succeeds Helen Bower, who is moving from Downing Street to the Foreign Office, where she will take up a new role as Boris Johnson’s director of communications

Photo:  Creative Commons/Peter Richmond

Photo:  Creative Commons/Peter Richmond

James (pictured) started his career at the Mansfield Chad in the 1990s before moving on to the Nottingham Post. A former home affairs correspondent on the Daily Mail, he worked on the newspaper’s three-year campaign to stop Aspergers sufferer Gary McKinnon, who was accused of hacking into 97 US military and NASA computers, from being extradited to America.

His appointment as PMOS – the position once held by Sir Bernard Ingham and Alastair Campbell among others – had been widely expected. It was confirmed with an official statement on the Downing Street website.

James joins the team as a civil servant in charge of No 10’s Press Office and will be responsible for the twice-daily briefings with political journalists in the houses of Parliament.

Commenting on James’ appointment, Will Walden, public affairs managing director at Edelman and Boris Johnson’s former communications director, told PRWeek: "Slack’s appointment is a super-smart move by Number 10. He’s a good operator, he’s trusted by the lobby, and he’s no-nonsense. Inevitably his ex-colleagues will now expect more of an insight than they’ve been getting.

"If they’re wise, Number 10 will give him what he needs - unfettered access to the decision-making and greater autonomy in his dealings with the press."

Group role for Diane

Express & Star deputy editor Diane Davies has moved to a new role as MNA Group Head of Weekly Titles.

Diane now takes charge of 17 weekly titles predominantly across the Black Country, Staffordshire and Shropshire.

Her new portfolio includes the Chronicle series in Wolverhampton, Cannock and Rugeley, Walsall and Willenhall, Dudley, Stourbridge, Sandwell, Halesowen, Oswestry and Shrewsbury, and the Advertiser titles in Newport and Market Drayton.

She will also oversee the Journal series in Telford, Bridgnorth, South Shropshire and Mid Wales, and the Stafford and Kidderminster editions of the Express & Star.

Diane said: "I am very excited about taking on this new position and working with an extremely experienced and talented team of journalists on further enhancing our weekly titles.

"Our weekly newspapers are already an important part of so many communities across the West Midlands, Shropshire and Staffordshire, reaching as far as Worcestershire and Mid Wales, and going into tens of thousands of homes. 

"It is an honour to take on this impressive portfolio and to be given the opportunity to ensure we are still very much an integral part of those communities and to explore every avenue to see if we can provide an even better product for our readers and advertisers both in print and online,” she added.

After Ten Year Gap, British Airways back in Brum

British Airways is to start flying from Birmingham and Bristol airports again with the launch of four new summer-only routes to popular European sunspots.

From May the airline will begin direct flights from both Birmingham and Bristol to the popular Spanish destinations of Malaga, Ibiza and Palma and to the Italian city of Florence.

They will operate on modern Embraer 190 jet aircraft, with spacious cabins and two abreast seating so every customer can have an aisle or window seat.

The new return flights from both airports will operate once a week at weekends.

British Airways last flew from Birmingham and Bristol in 2007 when the regional airline business was sold to Flybe.

Since then Vueling and Iberia Express, subsidiaries of British Airways’ parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG), have started up services to Barcelona, Malaga, Alicante, Tenerife, Paris Orly and Madrid from Birmingham, while Aer Lingus has continued to operate to Dublin from Birmingham since 1984.

Aer Lingus Regional operate from Bristol to Dublin.

David Winstanley, Chief Operating Officer for Birmingham Airport, a former headline sponsor of the Press Club’s Midlands Media Awards, said: “Having British Airways return to Birmingham is not only great news for the airport but also the Midlands region and we are confident this is the beginning of a long-term growth plan with the airline.

“Launching these four routes, of which Florence is currently unserved, means British Airways and Avios card holders as well as leisure travellers looking for a two-class cabin product can travel from their more convenient airport than those further afield. We look forward to welcoming one of the world’s most recognisable and trusted brands back to Birmingham in May.”

The news comes just a week after British Airways announced it is to resume European flights from Manchester Airport and increase destinations and frequencies from both London City and Stansted airports this summer.

Luke Hayhoe, British Airways’ general manager commercial and customer, said: “We are very excited to be returning to Birmingham and Bristol with four very popular routes. Customers can once again enjoy competitively priced flights to the sun direct from their doorstep with British Airways to those destinations they tell us they want to fly to. We look forward to a busy summer at both airports.”