Local Heroes 2010: Future of local news conference

Kingston University and Press Gazette have teamed up to host a unique one-day conference - Local Her

Confirmed speakers include: Former Birmingham Post and Mail editor in chief Steve Dyson, Teesside Gazette editor Darren Thwaites, ultra local blogging pioneer William Perrin and David Parkin, founder of successful local business news website TheBusinessDesk.

Journalists from all over the UK are expected to gather at the conference which is being held on 14 May at Kingston University's journalism department in Kingston-upon-Thames, South West London.

Brian Cathcart, Professor of Journalism at Kingston University, said: "No journalist alive today can remember a time when the future of regional and local news was more uncertain than it is now.

"The business model, the technology, the market and the character of the news itself are all changing so dramatically that it is hard to talk with any confidence about what things will be like in 2011, let alone 2015 or 2020.

"There is an urgent need to pool ideas, to share best practice and to hear from outsiders who have expertise that can help. That is what we hope this conference will achieve."

Press Gazette editor Dominic Ponsford said: "The print circulation figures and the balance sheets have never looked grimmer in the regional press, but there also some inspiring success stories out there.

"Even in the teeth of the worst media recession in history, journalists are launching successful local websites and print publications.

"This conference will provide a forum to debate the big questions facing local journalism - like whether paywalls and web-first publishing are the answer. And it will also provide examples of how real journalism can have a sustainable future at a local level."

Confirmed speakers:

- Steve Dyson, former Birmingham Post editor, on why he thinks free-for-all web-first publishing has been a disaster for local newspapers.

- Sheila Profit, former News of the World reporter turned editor of ultra local news website Fulham W6.

- James Hatts, founder and editor of profitable ultra local news website London SE1.

- Darren Thwaites, editor of the Evening Gazette in Teesside on how hundreds of bloggers now contribute to his title's ultra-local websites and reverse-published newspaper supplements.

- Eric Gordon, editor of the Camden New Journal on alternative ownership models for local news.

- William Perrin, community activist and pioneering ultra local blogger.

- Iain Overton, managing editor of the new London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, on how its £2m of launch funding could be used to help encourage local investigative journalism.

- David Parkin, editor and founder of TheBusinessDesk.com, the successful network of local business news websites which now employs ten journalists in Leeds, Liverpool and Birmingham.

- Tyrone Times editor David Rankin on how his weekly title achieved a recession-defying 6.4 per cent year-on-year circulation increase in the last ABC circulation figures.

- Mike Dickerson, founder of Community Times, a franchised network of 150 local magazines which now has a turnover of around £2m a year.

- Tony Johnston, head of training at Press Association, on the news agency's proposal to create a system which provides local council and court reporting on a not-for profit basis throughout the UK.

- A representative (name to be confirmed) from the management team of Niiu - the German newspaper which is using cutting edge digital printing technology to provide younger readers with a personalised daily newspaper.

- Former Grimsby Telegraph editor Nigel Lowther on launching independent weekly title the Cleethorpes Chronicle and how local ownership and lower profit margins could be the future for regional newspapers.

- Multimedia journalist Adam Westbrook on why video could be the answer for local news.

- Betty Drummond, managing director of Champion Media, on how her company has defied the recession to launch a network of new weekly newspaper titles in the North West

Prices (which include lunch and refreshments)
£100: Full price.
£80: Early bird discount (available until 1 April)
£50: Members of the NUJ

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette