Lockdown Lessons from Leicester to form SoE panel focus

Posted on: October 27, 2020 by Claire Meadows

Lockdown lessons from Leicester and beyond will form the focus of a panel discussion at the Society’s Virtual Conference for 2020. 

Taking place on the evening of Wednesday 11 November 2020, the discussion will hear from leading journalists in the Midlands and free speech campaigners about what happens to the flow of information from official bodies to the media when a pandemic sends the world into a tailspin and the experiences of on-the-ground reporters trying to get accurate, timely and trusted information to their readers, listeners and viewers. 

Chaired by Marc Reeves, former editor of the Birmingham Mail and Marketplace Publisher for Reach plc in the Midlands, the panel will include Liz Hannam, Head of News for ITV Central, Jane Haynes, BirminghamLive & Birmingham Mail People & Politics editor, Dan Martin, Politics reporter for LeicestershireLive and the Leicester Mercury and Ruth Smeeth, chief executive at Index on Censorship. 

Looking ahead to the debate, Ian Murray, Executive Director of the Society of Editors said that with the Midlands having the first and longest local lockdown in the UK, the panel would look at the disruption of the past few months and also consider any long-term implications for media freedoms. 

He said: “With Leicester now having been under a variety of local restrictions for more than 100 days and ongoing rules impacting millions of people across the region, we will hear from frontline journalists and Index on Censorship about what lessons can be learned from lockdown.”

Registration for the free event is now open and will take place at 6pm on Wednesday 11th November via Crowdcast. The debate comes as part of the Society’s Virtual Conference for 2020 which will include four In Discussion with… keynote talks as well as eight panel debates held virtually over the course of November and early December.

The In Discussion with…series will hear from Kamal Ahmed, Editorial Director of BBC News, Rachel Corp, newly appointed editor of ITV News and the Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett of Maldon. Details of how to register for all the debates and talks are available here.

Speaker biographies appear below. 

Marc Reeves, Marketplace publisher, Midlands & Wales, Reach plc
Marc is marketplace publisher in the Midlands and Wales for Reach plc and is responsible for some of the biggest regional newspapers and websites in the UK. He has been editor of the Birmingham Post, Birmingham Mail and Reading Chronicle and has spent more than thirty years in the regional press.

Liz Hannam, Head of News, ITV Central
Liz is the Head of News for ITV Central in the Midlands. Although originally from Dorset, Birmingham is her adopted home. She went to university in the city and her first TV job was as ITV Central’s trainee in its then Broad Street studios. Most of her TV career has been as a Head of News, previously leading teams in Bristol and Plymouth, before returning to the Midlands in 2011. Under her leadership her teams have won national RTS awards and top industry online awards. She regularly advises on ITV News projects involving Diversity and Inclusion.

Jane Haynes, BirminghamLive & Birmingham Mail People & Politics editor
Jane is politics and people editor at Birmingham Live. Her role is to show how political decisions made in Westminster and council chambers impact on communities and residents, giving voice particularly to those most adversely affected, from homeless families trapped in B&Bs, to a school on the receiving end of hateful protests, from refugees in crisis to families grieving lives lost to coronavirus. Jane learned her craft as a journalist in the 1990s, working as a reporter and then on newsdesks in Shropshire, Wolverhampton, Swansea and Nottingham. She quit journalism for 15 years before a crashing midlife realisation that no other job came close.

Dan Martin, Politics reporter, LeicestershireLive & Leicester Mercury
Dan has been a reporter at the Leicester Mercury and LeicestershireLive since 2001.

Since 2011 he has been the politics correspondent and has covered some of the most significant stories affecting the city, from the discovery of the remains of Richard III under a council social services car park to the 2018 King Power Stadium helicopter crash – and now Leicester Lockdown. His coverage of the lockdown was recently recognised, along with that of local democracy reporter colleague Amy Orton, in the Behind Local News’ Public Interest Journalism list and his stories have regularly been featured in national and international media.

Ruth Smeeth, chief executive, Index on Censorship
Currently the Chief Executive of Index on Censorship, Ruth was previously the Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent North & Kidsgrove from 2015-2019.  During that time she was the Vice-Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party and the Parliamentary Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement.  Before her election Ruth ran HOPE not hate the anti-extremism campaign which defeated the BNP and EDL.  Ruth has also worked in the trade union, third sector and private sectors.