Media groups in the south of England have been urged to come together and create a media hub to compete with London.
The rallying call comes from Ian Murray, President of the Society of Editors and editor of the Daily Echo in Southampton who spoke exclusively to the Rock.
Mr Murray’s vision is to create a regional media hub south of the capital and the plan has already been endorsed by Toby Granville, editor of the Daily Echo in Bournemouth.
Mr Murray said: “We’ve actually got a cluster of media and media training and education here. We’ve got daily newspapers based here in Southampton, Bournemouth, Portsmouth and down as far as Weymouth.
“We’ve also got Bournemouth, Solent and Winchester universities and Highbury College and Southampton City College. There’s so much that’s here. It just struck me that we are a cluster and that we should pull together.”
Mr Murray suggested that a regional media hub should be created in order to keep young journalists in this region as well as to create a larger platform for the extensive media opportunities available in the south of England.
He said: “There is a keenness for us to find a way to actually use all this potential and pull together in some way. If we speak with one voice we will attract in to this region financial support and industry.”
Editor of the Daily Echo in Bournemoth, Toby Granville, was supportive of Mr Murray’s campaign to rally southern media groups.
Of the plan, he said: “I think it sounds like a very good project. There is so much homegrown talent here in the area.”
Mr Granville added: “Bournemouth University develops so much young talent and most of the recruits that we have on our Dorset newspapers come from this university.
“That’s because the core values that they’re taught here and the skills they develop are perfect for what’s required for the modern journalist.”
Talking to the Rock at the Society of Editors Conference in Southampton, Mr Murray suggested that there was a lack of awareness of the journalism industry south of the capital.
“There is so much potential here but our own industry doesn’t know it. During this conference it was perfectly obvious that our own industry didn’t recognise what we actually have is based just here; it’s time that we shouted about it.”
Mr Murray discussed plans for the media hub and those in the area he had been in talks with to organise it.
He said: “What form it will take I don’t know. Hampshire County Council are very keen and they see this as a way of boosting an industry which I hope will be successful.
“Obviously they’re focusing on Hampshire, but we want the plans to be successful for the whole of the region - with jobs, prosperity and all the kinds of things that come with it.” Mr Murray also emphasised that the hub is key to attracting up and coming trainee journalists.
He said: “When I sat thinking about what have we have got down here, I couldn’t separate the existing industry from the educational structure.
“The training of students and the education of students would feed into this potential hub.
“One of the challenges that I know this area faces is that we as an area are attracting wonderful and intelligent students; they come to our universities and colleges, they train, get qualified but how do we keep them here? We need to make sure they don’t all scurry off to London.”
He added: “South of England is a brilliant place to start careers and to put down roots, and it’s a good place to actually feed into London.
“I don’t think we can ever take away that London is a world city; it is the media centre for probably the whole of Europe, and there’s nothing wrong in that.
“But that’s been our problem, it’s that automatically people qualify and disappear up the M3 corridor to London.
“We want to retain them here and even draw some back once they’ve gone off to the big bright lights.”