Observer breaks exclusive bird flu story online

The Observer today posted a rare web-first exclusive story about the discovery of three birds with a lethal strain of bird flu on Guardian Unlimited.

Three dead swans were found on a nature reserve in Dorset and after ‘urgent tests’were found to have the H5N1 strain of avian influenza in the last 48 hours, Defra told the newspaper.

The story was described on Guardian Unlimited website as an ‘Observer exclusive’by the paper’s chief Whitehall correspondent Jo Revill.

Revill was health correspondent when, last February, she wrote what the Observer said was the first stories ever published mid-week by an Observer journalist, on the origin of the outbreak of bird flu in Suffolk. A well-known authority on bird flu, Revill published a book on the subject in 2005.

The Observer and its sister title The Guardian are preparing to move to a new office in London’s King’s Cross later this year or early 2009. Some integration of the two titles’ news teams is widely expected and a new house agreement between the NUJ and parent company Guardian News and Media set out the rights of staff and their role in a fully digital environment.

Former Observer editor Roger Alton told Press Gazette this week that the Sunday title would have to integrate its news teams with the Guardian to avoid both sets of reporters covering the same events.

Read The Observer bird fu story here

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