Behind the Scenes at the Beeb

Our friends at the BBC are going to be busy on First Thursday – working hard on Election Night.

So they’ve agreed to host the Press Club’s regular networking night on the Second Thursday of May (12th).  We’ll then find out what really happens inside BBC Birmingham with the chance to take a tour and hear what’s planned from the region’s BBC boss.

If you would like to take a look behind the scenes of regional news programme Midlands Today, sit in the presenter’s chair at local radio station BBC WM and visit the BBC’s radio drama studio - home to the world-famous Archers and Radio 4s most ambitious drama serial Home Front – sign up now.

BBC Tour Guides bring the fantastic TV, radio and online productions to life in a variety of creative ways and explain how the BBC gets ideas from script to screen and how production teams work right up to the wire to deliver what you see and hear at home.

And you'll be able to have a go at making your very own radio play in the BBC Tours Interactive room.

Birmingham Press Club members are invited to sign up for a one-hour tour around the BBC’s Mailbox building and join media colleagues for networking drinks and conversation inside BBC Birmingham.

The BBC’s Head of Region and Local Programmes, David Jennings, will welcome members to the Birmingham home of the BBC.

Please send your name and preference for a 5.30 or 6.30 tour (tours will be allocated on first-come basis) to by 6 May.

Press Club members – those on a tour or not – are requested to meet in the BBC Birmingham Reception in the Mailbox from 5.25pm. Refreshments will be available.

Details on how to join the Press Club may be found on our website, or by getting in touch with Membership Secretary Adrian Kibbler on 07831 690940. E-mail:

Top Media Student Now Seeks Full-time Job in Journalism

A 22-year-old Birmingham man, who graduated with honours after completing his award-winning journalism studies at the University of Worcester, has won the top accolade at the Midlands Media Students Awards.

Conor Rees, now seeking a fulltime job in journalism, won two of the 12 categories – the Online innovation and Blogger/Vlogger awards – before being named as Media Student of the Year at the awards evening, held at the Austin Court conference centre in Birmingham.

Chris Gray

Sky News managing editor Peter Lowe, who headed the judging panel, said: “Picking a winner from a set of brilliant winners was excruciatingly difficult.  But the overall title goes to Conor Rees for his 99 Percent Lifestyle magazine, which is an extraordinary body of work.  It’s beautifully designed and produced, extremely glossy and, crucially, genuinely interesting. Conor is in danger of being signed by Conde Nast” (a premier media company which attracts 123 million consumers to its industry-leading print, digital and video brands).

In his initial year at Worcester University, Conor, who lives in Northfield, won the First Year Student of the Year award for journalism and in 2015 – his final year – he won the university’s “best magazine” award.

A Special Commendation was awarded to runner-up Chris Gray, from the University of Lincoln, who won the category for video journalist with an entry entitled “Who Cares?”

Mr Lowe said: “This was a superbly executed video production about a girl growing up as a carer for her sister.  The journalistic coup was persuading the family to take part and to film themselves.  The end result was compellingly human, and at the same time heart-warming and heart-breaking.”

Staffordshire University was headline sponsor of the awards, which were also supported by Birmingham City University, Barclays, Bournville College, JDB Events, Real People and Purple Frog Property, which provides student accommodation in locations including Birmingham and Nottingham. The awards, which were organised by Cloud 9 Events Management on behalf of Birmingham Press Club, attracted a record entry of 257.

The awards, originally launched last year with the aim of recognising future talent in broadcasting, journalism and photography, attracted entries from university and college students in Birmingham, Coventry, Derby, Lincoln, Nottingham, Staffordshire, Wolverhampton and Worcester.

Press Club chairman Ed James said: “The media industry is going through some challenging times at the moment. However, quality journalism will always be in demand and if the undoubted talent that we have seen in the awards is anything to go by, then there will not be a shortage of that in the future.”

Category winners were:  Active Journalism: Antoine Omisore, Staffordshire University - Sex Addiction

Blogger/Vlogger: Conor Rees, University of Worcester - 99 Percent Lifestyle Online and Physical Magazine

Data Journalism: Maria Crosas Batista, Birmingham City University - Obesity in the UK –

Entertainment: Danielle Skerrett (Group Entry), University of Lincoln - Frankie Says ‘I Do’

Humour: Rebecca Heyes, Staffordshire University - Staffordshire University rugby team red-faced as kit blunder shows waist sizes

Infographics: Laura Moody, Nottingham Trent University – The World Changes at Sunset

Investigation: Robert Smith, Staffordshire University - Staffordshire Yeomanry veteran hailed “luckiest man in the desert” reveals an incredible story'

Online Innovation: Conor Rees, University of Worcester - 99 Percent Lifestyle Online and Physical Magazine

Public Affairs: Chelsea James, University of Worcester – Food Samples Feature

Scoop: Natasha Hardy, Staffordshire University - Grieving father speaks out amid investigations into the death of his 3-year-old son at Stafford Hospital

Sport: Adam Tomlinson(Group Entry), University of Lincoln - LSJ Sport

Video Journalism: Chris Gray, University of Lincoln - Who Cares?

The categories were chosen to allow media students a real platform to showcase their passion for a particular subject matter.

Death of renowned newspaper cartoonist

Gifted cartoonist Bert Hackett, who delighted readers of The Birmingham Post with his Gemini creations, has died after a four-year battle with prostate cancer.

His funeral will be at Lodge Hill Chapel, Birmingham, at mid-day on Friday, May 6, followed by a wake at the Old Moseley Arms in Tindal Street.

Bert, who is survived by his daughters Zoe and Rosie, was born in Balsall Heath but lived in Moseley almost all his life.

After attending Birmingham College of Art, Bert served his national service in the Royal Navy and then joined the Manchester Evening News in 1954.

Returning to Birmingham, where he started his own business, Bert began to draw graphics for The Birmingham Post on a freelance basis. Together with business partner Graham Gavin they were invited to draw cartoons for the Post under the name of Gemini. When Graham eventually left, Bert took on the Gemini role full-time.

Paying tribute, former Birmingham Post editor Peter Saunders, said: “Bert Hackett was a brilliant cartoonist, able to stand comparison with any in the land. But he was far more than that:  deeply involved in so many aspects of The Birmingham Post, he contributed news and feature graphics, helped to select typefaces and acted as an ever-present confidante and sounding board to a succession of grateful editors.

 “Yes, he could be grumpy: who wouldn’t be if they had to provide the editor with a selection of three pocket cartoons every night for more than 40 years? On thin news days it could be a nightmare, with the editor and chief sub constantly interrupting to try to find at least the subject of his cartoon so that they could tie it in with the relevant news story. I always felt that selecting subjects for the cartoon and the leading article were the two most difficult parts of producing a daily newspaper – and surprisingly similar. Bert made it easier, although there were days when it was like drawing blood out of the proverbial, pipe-puffing stone.

 “His consistency, and in the early years that of his business partner the late Graham Gavin with whom he used to alternate cartoon duties, was remarkable. It ranged from the brilliant to,on a bad day, the very good. He did have problems drawing some people. One was Harold Wilson; another, far less illustrious, was a post racing tipster called Tony Lewis. When Tony won the Sporting Life’s tipster of the year title it was decreed that Bert should provide a Page 1 cartoon on his success. For more than an hour Bert stared at Tony before announcing: “it’s no good, I can’t draw him. He’s got one of those faces”. But he still managed to come up with a cartoon, albeit without Tony, that perfectly captured the achievement.

 “Although he was born in Birmingham he made his name as a newspaper graphic designer on the Manchester Evening News, where he so impressed a young assistant editor called Harold Evans (now Sir Harold, of course) that he sang his praises 50 years later in his book The Paper Chase. And it was fitting that he should end his career with that retrospective exhibition at the Midlands Arts Centre,” said Peter

Sarah Probert, features editor at the Post who was on the news desk when Bert contributed to the paper, said that Bert crafted more than 10,000 cartoons and worked with more than a dozen editors during his 42-year association with the paper.

“His enormous contribution will never be forgotten,” she said.

To celebrate Bert’s 80th birthday in 2013 a special exhibition of his work was shown at macBirmingham.

Venue Announced for Media Students Awards

Austin Court, the waterside conference centre located near to Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena, is to host this year’s Midlands Media Awards, which take place on the evening of April 21.

A Grade II listed building, Austin Court combines Georgian character with modern technologyand features a 150-seat custom-built lecture theatre. It was named after Herbert Austin, the pioneering Midlands car manufacturer.

Tickets are now available for the event, which this year has attracted a record number of 250 entries for the twelve categories.

Student tickets are priced at £20 + VAT, while standard tickets are £35 + VAT.

They may be purchased via EventBrite or by

Launched last year with the aim of recognising future talent in broadcasting, journalism and photography, the awards have attracted entries from universities and colleges in Birmingham, Coventry, Derby, Lincoln, Nottingham, Staffordshire, Wolverhampton and Worcester.

The categories have been chosen to allow media students a real platform to showcase their passion for a particular subject matter.

Students from Lincoln, Staffordshire and Worcester have been nominated for the Scoop of the Year Award.

Staffordshire University is headline sponsor of the awards, which are also being supported by Birmingham City University, Barclays Bank and Bournville College.

Onwards and Upwards for Natasha Since 2015 Awards Success

In the run-up to this year’s Midlands Media Students Awards, to be held in Birmingham on April 21, Natasha Turney reflects on her success as winner in 2015

It was amazing to simply be shortlisted, so when my name was announced as winner of not only my category but overall Student Journalist of the Year, I was overwhelmed with shock and joy.

You always go to an award ceremony hoping for the best but you never truly believe it can happen until it does.

Having seen several of the entries beforehand I knew the standard was very high and it was going to be a tough decision for the judges.

This win came as a complete surprise and a great honour to be bestowed upon. Knowing the prestige of the industry event it’s an award I am extremely proud of.

Since then, my career as a Broadcast Journalist in BBC Local Radio has gone onwards and upwards, working my way through national reporting to primetime news reading and producing BBC Radio Lincolnshire’s flagship breakfast programme.

The award re-affirmed my own skills and ability and encouraged me to push the boundaries of creativity in my work.

As a reward for my success in the inaugural Midlands Media Students Awards I enjoyed a placement at ITV Central, spending time in all areas of the newsroom as well assisting with location reports. This was a great insight into a career in television, an avenue I’d like to pursue in the future.