The Newspaper Society today highlighted the way the Whitehaven News used multimedia reporting of the shooting tragedy which unfolded in the Cumbrian town yesterday.
Traffic to the CN Group’s title’s website showed a massive increase as readers, national and international news outlets logged on to the site for information about the shooting spree by local man Derrick Bird, who later took his own life.
As well as keeping the website updated, the News pushed back its 2pm Wednesday deadline in order to splash on details of the tragedy in which 12 people died. Yesterday afternoon, traffic to the paper’s website grew from an average of 200 hits an hour to 18,000 and the newsroom was bombarded by requests for interviews and information about the incident.
After news of the first shooting – just two minutes away from the paper’s office in Whitehaven – broke, police advised residents in the area to remain indoors.
Alan Cleaver, News deputy editor, told the NS: “We had a call from a local shop keeper who we know who said there had been a shooting in Duke Street. We went down onto the street and sure enough police were starting to seal off the area.
“The police were closing down the area so our reporters who were out at courts or council were locked in. We couldn’t go out and do what we would normally, so our staff started phoning round their contacts from the office.”
The paper’s sister title the News and Star constantly updated its website with quotes from eye witnesses which were picked up by national media, including the Guardian and The Times.