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Established over 100 years ago the Birmingham Post retains a standard of journalism rarely seen among local newspapaers. Whilst many local papers have switched to a tabloid format and often sadly with the lower quality standards of tabloids the Birmingham Post remains a broadsheet.
For a local newspaper to be successful it needs to have a balance between its requirements towards its local readership and the need to ensure matters of national or indeed international importance are also covered. The Birmingham Post covers local news intelligently and with some authority. The writing is better than in most similar papers and firstly it avoids excessive hyperbole and secondly it avoids being overly judgemental. There is also a refreshing absence of political bias. The midlands is an area of the country which has supported a wide spectrum of political opinion over the years and the local newspaper respects its readerships integrity.
One criticism is perhaps that like many local papers the Post devotes a large amount of space towards the cases which have come before the local courts. In some respects I think this is lazy easy journalism as the story is right there in front of the journalist and he or she just has to write it up. I do wish sometimes journalists would be a little more proactive and go out and find real stories which do not involve the regular circle of crime, job losses and terminally dull council matters. (Perhaps the Birmingham Council Leader is aptly named - Albert Bore). However as the Post is not sensational in its reporting I will not be too harsh criticising it. National news is reasonably well covered and though brief the international coverage is also well done.
As much space is given to letters to and comment by the newspaper as are given towards international news. There is also good coverage of culture and the arts as well as listings of what is on in Birmingham's theatres, clubs and cinemas as well as exhibitions and concerts. The TV page is comprehensive and each programme to be shown on terrestrial TV in peak time has a little write-up.
The Post does also have a separate section with business and sports news in it. The business news section is very comprehensive and covers a number of financial areas including news of shares as well as the progress of companies and financial policy. There is also coverage of matters involving e-business. Once again the standard of journalism is very high and matters are intelligently presented.
The quality of the paper is maintained in the sports section. A lot of space is given towards football and covers the Premier league clubs, the Nationwide league and non-league competitions. The Premier League clubs each have a reporter attached to them and the coverage is much better than the 'Rovers full-back groin strain scare' reporting which is sometimes seen. Other sports have good coverage particularly Rugby Union and racing.
The Birmingham Post is a good newspaper with a level of readability I have rarely seen in a local paper. If you are visiting the midlands it is well worth buying.
They say every music journalist does their job because they want to be a rock star but isn?t good enough, and for me the same was true of sport. I decided that if I couldn?t play sport for a living, then I wanted to watch it and get paid for doing so. After numerous discussions with my careers advisor at school, I was told that the best way into sports journalism would be to take English, History, and Biology at A-level and then apply for a Sports Science degree at Bath University. The problem was that I have less interest in Science then I do in seeing Vanessa Feltz naked and covered in mud; the only difference being that Science doesn?t make me feel ill; just a little nauseous. Anyway, I meandered my way through my first year of A-levels doing History instead of Biology, thereby squandering any chance I had of that Sports Science degree. By this time, it was obvious that the best way forward on paper would be a Journalism or Media Studies degree. These are often looked upon with scorn by potential employers, so applying to these courses seemed like the academic equivalent of Oasis?s recent music career (i.e. going downhill fast). Still, fancying the challenge (or, more truthfully, being a lazy b*stard who couldn?t be bothered to do English at uni), I took up an offer to study Media Studies at Loughborough. The course didn?t look great, but on my open day there were a total of 46 women and 4 men doing my course. As you have probably learned by now, academia is my reason behind everything. Seriously though, just days before returning my UCAS form with an acceptance from Loughborough, I had a change of heart and decided to stay in London, my homeland, to go to City and study Journalism. When I had visited the university it seemed like a complete dump, but the Journalism department has the best reputation in the world so I took a gamble and ended up there. Three years on, I recently graduated with a 2:1 having ? admittedly ? done very little work,
and very much drinking. The worst thing was that leaving City came with more with a sense of relief that I?d got a degree, than any particular sense of achievement. This is less to do with the inept and rather unstructured Journalism course (ImogenW can you hear me?!), and more to do with the fact that the two most important events in my career so far both happened outside of City University. And that?s where this opinion comes in, because in journalism ? regardless of talent, regardless of commitment to the cause ? there is one thing you must have. And that?s a lucky break. My first came on the 28th September 1998 ? a date I remember well because it was my first day at uni and I couldn?t attend the Freshers? Party in the evening. This was because on that day I was going to see my favourite band of the time, a group called Rialto, at the Criterion Theatre. After the gig, waiting for a Bakerloo line train to begin my journey home, a guy approached me on the platform, acknowledged the Rialto shirt I was wearing, and offered me a ticket to the aftershow party as he had to rush home. Little did I or he know that he had inadvertently changed my life, even if only in a small way. It was at that aftershow party that I had a long chat with a highly regarded NME journalist named Jim Wirth. He gave me loads of good advice, and it was that evening that my heart became set on being a music journalist. Most significantly of all, he suggested that a great way in would be to start my own fanzine. I thought it was a great idea, and over the next month or so got together with a friend and began talking to China, the band?s record company, and Rise, the band?s management. Within two months I was editor of Rialto?s official fanzine. And that?s how the ride began: with the completely flukey offer of an aftershow party ticket while waiting for a tube. My second lucky break is even more ridiculous. In January, my dad ? who I hardly know and rarely
speak to ? called me to say that he had set me up some work experience at a TV company. He?s a plumber and been working for a guy called David Rose, who ran a company called Whereits.at. To appease him, I said I?d think about it, but I wasn?t sure if I had the time to go and do it. In the end, because I thought it?d be a handy thing to have on my CV, I went to do two weeks work experience in February. Since then things have never looked back. I was writing for the company?s website, mainly on sports and music, which is what I?d always wanted to do. I got on well with people in the office and was genuinely sad to be leaving. On my last day, I was told to keep in touch and that they?d see what they could do come the summer. At six in the evening I was presented with a bottle of wine to say thanks and farewell. Half an hour later I was sat in the manager?s office negotiating a part-time, two day a week contract until I finished uni. Apparently my line manager had gone to the top of the company and told them I was too good to let go. Again, I was taken aback, and again, all this came from my dad doing the plumbing on someone?s house. It?s insane. Since then, I?ve started full time and really enjoyed it. I used to write on the uni magazine too and it?s a career I would definitely recommend to anyone with an interest in music; you just need that lucky break, and usually it comes out of nowhere. Over the past three years I?ve met so many great bands through music journalism ? Travis, Lightning Seeds, Stereophonics, Feeder, OPM, Alisha?s Attic, Republica, Rialto, Natalie Imbruglia, My Life Story, Wonder Stuff, Ooberman, Witness ? and it never gets boring. This job won?t last forever, but it?s something I?d recommend to anyone. A lot of people ask me who the nicest and nastiest people I?ve met are. The most pleasant person was undoubtedly Ian Broudie of the Lightning Seeds, who was just a lovely guy. On the other hand, Natalie Imbruglia is one o
f the most ignorant people I?ve ever met. I had a mad crush on her in Neighbours, and bought her first album, but she only seemed interested in herself. The best interview I?ve done was with a band called OPM, who are in the charts with Heaven Is A Halfpipe. They were so open, unlike most English bands, and had some cracking tourbus stories that never got printed. The worst interview was Ian Van Dahl, who are three European girls in the charts at the mo with Castles In The Sky. They spoke very little English and didn?t have a lot to say. That?s just something that happens I guess. Anyway, I?m sure you?re all bored by now with my mini-autobiography. The point was mainly to prove that anyone can write ? which is very apt on a site like Ciao. To start making inroads upwards, all you need is a lucky break ? there is no perfect formula, but it?s a great feeling when you start seeing your name in print. I'm only 21 and as such, the youngest person on the writing team here - most of the others are between 25 and 28, so I know how lucky I am. I love my job and, even if it?s not greatly paid, just getting paid at all feels like a privilege. I?d recommend it to anyone with a passing interest in writing.