R.I.P. Metro Life
Having heard various rumours and had a couple of emails bounce back, someone confirmed to me last night that Metro have shut down their West Midlands office. This is a doggone shame. For some years this free rag has distinguished itself with excellent coverage of cultural stuff in the region. Us people in the arts find it very easy to moan about the limitations of the regional media, but in my experience when I've had an event to plug there's always been someone receptive and enthusiastic at Metro happy to pass on the word. Often they'd get in touch with you rather than sitting back waiting for press releases to roll in, which seems increasingly rare amongst journalists. So bigup respect to Annette, David, Dan and the rest, and good luck with whatever you do next. Metro Life continues, but it will be a whole lot more London-centric from now on.
Of course this is part of a much wider meltdown for print media. In a big sprawling place like Birmingham it can be hard work getting the word out on your gig or exhibition, and it may well get harder if all the arts and listings writers vanish. Plenty of people attempt to fill the gap with DIY listings sites, blogs and mailouts, but although it's more expensive and worse for the environment and really bloody hard to sustain I do think if this information is going to break out and reach new audiences then a printed listings mag is part of the answer. One with an attitude. Area, which launched before the summer, may be it. To cover all the city's little scenes and pockets a publication should reflect the jumble of networks and voices that you can find online. Birmingham has a tradition of this - go hunt down 1900s back-issues of The Owl in the library, where arguments about the Boer war sit alongside writeups of the local variety shows, or opinionated 70s zines like Broadside... I know it's the 21st century, but paper rocks! Here endeth the scrambled Friday afternoon rant.