Dear Editor, Thank-you for your invitation to join in the consultation over the future of the Birmingham Post.
May I start with two stories?
The first goes back to the mid-1970s when I was driving into Birmingham along Rotton Park Road. An area at that time which was close to becoming a red light district. I noticed an elderly lady waiting at a bus stop, for a bus into town. As I was going that way I stopped to offer her a lift.
Having looked carefully into my car she accepted my offer and I dropped her off in Colmore Circus. The following week I read a letter in the Post which recounted the story written by this lady. She apparently worked in the department which compiled the Birmingham Post’s Who’s Who, and she recalled in her letter that she had been offered a lift by a stranger and been unsure about accepting a lift, but when she had looked into the car and seen a copy of the Birmingham Post she knew that she was in safe hands!
The second story (again some time ago now) relates to when I was taking the family to Paris for the weekend.
It was possible then to board a train in New Street which was only for those who wished to have a direct link to the Eurostar at Waterloo.
It was a Saturday morning but I had forgotten to collect a copy of the Birmingham Post. When the ticket collector announced he was happy to assist with any enquiries, I asked him if he had a copy of the Birmingham Post. He was unable to help me but when we arrived at Birmingham International he offered to hold the train whilst I ran up the stairs to purchase a copy of the Post from the newsagents on the concourse above the station. I was quite proud of the fact that the Paris train had been held up to enable me to buy a copy of the Birmingham Post!
Perhaps these stories tell in a small way the importance of the paper. It is not just that I am personally an aficionado of the Birmingham Post but I genuinely believe in its importance in promoting the region and it would be tragic if this is not recognised.
Birmingham decision makers and those who know the value of networking need a paper of this quality in order to keep up to date and understand the various sections of the West Midlands economy and to follow (as they lead themselves) those who make things happen in and around Birmingham. The value of the paper with the special editions is incalculable and I do not believe that it can be replaced by any ‘on line’ substitute.
The sad thing is that this is not recognised by everyone and like you I am not convinced that thinning down the paper to save costs will save it in the long run. I was certainly one of those who doubted the wisdom of going tabloid but having done so the content of the paper has improved and also maintained wider coverage of national events. It is a great pity if this cannot be maintained on a daily basis.
A reduction of the paper to a weekly edition may lose further readers and also cause the paper to lose something of its current national perspective as it reverts to concentrating on local issues. However, this is better than no paper at all and may save money for readers as well as Trinity Mirror.
No matter how good the Post is, it has to be said that it is likely to be always a supplement to a national, particularly for those who have the time to read two newspapers on a daily basis. If you are to save the paper by printing a weekly edition then it would be wise to try and ensure that some of the weekend readers were brought back into the fold by printing on a Friday in order to give adequate coverage both to that week’s local business news as well as covering the weekend for the region.
The first thing my late father used to turn to in The Birmingham Post each morning were the obituaries. The last thing we want is the obituary of the Birmingham Post itself.