A new Post & Mail?

The current Post & Mail building on Weaman StreetI’ve been putting off this post because it covers so many things I hardly know where to start.

December was a strange month for me because this blog somehow got me into the group of people developing the new Birmingham Post website (there will be an update on this soon – promise!).

After taking us back in from the cold, I think Trinity Mirror decided it better do something interesting with us… and quickly. I guess the planned move to Fort Dunlop made for the perfect opportunity.

Since then, things have got a little crazy around here.

The laptop is part of it. Apparently, when we all move over to our new site at Fort Dunlop, everyone will be swapping their antiquated Mac Classics for one of these Compaq 6710bs. I suspect the good battery life and the 3G connection are all part of the plan to make Post & Mail journalists more flexible and mobile. From what I’ve heard (although I don’t know for sure) this leapfrogs us over most other Trinity Mirror publications in the technology stakes.

The reason I have my laptop early is because tomorrow I start a new distance learning postgraduate course. It is a Trinity Mirror collaboration with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) and is built around the university’s Journalism Leaders Programme.

It’s in its second term, but two people dropped out and it was decided that one person from The Post and another from The Mail should take up the places. As part of the recent madness, I got asked if I wanted to do it. Well…it was a bit of a no brainer really.

Seminars for the course happen online and that’s why I got the laptop early. I needed a machine that could cope with online conferences. The first seminar is tomorrow afternoon… and I’m nervous. It’s like the first day of school again.

The course looks at the transition of the newsroom as a result of converging technologies and investigates what is required to manage that change… or at least that’s how I’ve interpreted it.

It’s quite a big thing to take on, with at least eight to ten hours of study expected each week. We also have residential weeks every couple of months that seem fairly intense.

But of course I’m excited about it – three months ago I was utterly despairing at the backward technology we have here, now I’m being asked to go on a training course that not only deals with current developments, but also looks to the future. Who wouldn’t be excited?!

There are other things going on around here that suggest to me we’re rapidly time travelling from 1998 to 2008. A rather lovely shiny new Mac has appeared on a desk near to me and a few people are fresh back from video training.

I am under no illusions that fast-forwarding a decade is going to have its problems. You can’t expect people who have been working on Mac OS9 for at least the last seven years to suddenly switch to a completely new system (and continue producing a paper) without a few teething troubles.

But we are finally moving towards the sort of operation I’ve been longing to work for since I arrived and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Fort Dunlop

One of M Moser's office designsOK, while we’re on the subject of the trials and tribulations of media organisations, you may be aware that the Post & Mail management team recently departed.

Before they went on their way, they emailed us an update on Fort Dunlop, which I thought I’d share here:

We confirmed last week that the departments based in the Birmingham office in Weaman Street will relocate next summer to the Fort Dunlop development.

You will have seen I am sure some of the coverage in our own titles, and wish to know more about the move and its implications for you and your colleaguesWe have signed the lease on the entire top floor, some 53,000 sq. ft. of open plan office space, which at an acre is the largest single open plan office in the country outside of London.

The design is incredibly modern and comes with 24-hour access, security, on-site parking and a bus service. This is a free, dedicated Fort Dunlop service that will pick up and drop off at stations and other main locations in Birmingham city centre.

You will probably have seen the 100 bedroom hotel let to Travelodge, on the side of the main building when passing. On the ground are a Daily Grind Coffee coffee house, Vinappris Wine Bar, The Flower Room florist and a Funky Monkeys kids activity centre. It also boasts a 150m roof garden expanding the length of the building. Coming soon to Fort Dunlop will be a Select convenience store, a gym and a nursery.

We have agreed with the developer, Urban Splash, that staff can be shown around our floor in small groups prior to the time of moving. However, now that building works have begun to prepare our floor for habitation, visits will commence in the New Year.

You can of course visit the building in your own time when you will be able to see and access the ground floor facilities mentioned above.

Design Consultants, M Moser Associates, will be working with us helping us make the most of our new space in terms of the environment, personal space and furniture requirements.We know that there are lots of questions to be answered about workspace, shifts, equipment and not least, travel, transport and parking.

We will, over the coming weeks and months, address everything you want and need to know. We do, however, ask you to be patient if we don’t have all the answers until further into the planning stages and nearer the time of the move.

We are very excited about Fort Dunlop and we are sure you will be too, especially when you have visited the building. On seeing the space we will occupy and the enormous opportunity it creates for a change in atmosphere and culture of an office, we hope you will be encouraged by the significant benefits of this move.

So… there you go. Thoughts?