Riots: How northern dailies covered the carnage

Daily newspapers in Manchester, Wolverhampton and Birmingham all experienced surging web traffic as journalists worked through the night to cover riots on Tuesday/Wednesday.

According to the Birmingham Mail, 100,000 people logged on to the site on Tuesday and page views were up 300 per cent year on year. The website of the Manchester Evening News attracted 498,348 page views (up 60 per cent on the daily average from the last six weeks) and 167,308 unique users (up 79 per cent).

The Wolverhampton Express and Star said that its total number of website hits reached more than 800,000 on Tuesday and it said it was expecting one million yesterday.

The Manchester Evening News had 12 reporters and seven photographers covering the story on Tuesday night at various points across Manchester and Salford. Production, newsdesk and website staff also worked until the early hours.

Journalists updated a live blog powered by CoveritLive and used Nokia N8 phones to gather photos and video. According to the MEN, at its height at around midnight the blog had 25,000 followers.

A phone video taken by reporter Pete Bainbridge of rioters looting a Manchester City Centre shoe-shop has been shown around the world.

MEN editor Maria McGeoghan said: “I’m very proud of all the MEN team who did a very difficult job in dangerous circumstances last night.

‘Our live blog was updated by the minute and followed by thousands right through the night and today’s MEN is a credit to everyone involved.”

The MEN produced seven pages of coverage in the first print edition which was off-stone at midnight on Tuesday. An updated edition went to press at 5am.

As the clean-up operation got underway the MEN produced a third 11am edition with 9 pages of coverage.

Birmingham Mail reporters worked throughout the night filing live updates for the website, also via a live blog, and using their mobiles to capture video and photos of the violence.

In print, the Mail splashed yesterday on the news that 10-year-old boys were believed to be involved in the violence.

Dramatic photographs of masked men rampaging through the city covered the inside pages together with a psychologist’s analysis of what was motivating the violence.

CCTV images of wanted suspects were carried along with a report on police raids on the houses of suspected looters.

Birmingham Mail editor David Brookes said: “The newsroom was well prepared for the possibility of disorder in Birmingham after what we had seen in London on previous nights.

“Our team of reporters, photographers, web and print editors covered every angle of the violence in what remains a very fluid situation.

“Having journalists on the ground in the thick of the troubles was key to reporting the facts clearly and accurately at a time when a lot of rumours were flying around.

“The team did a fantastic job and I am particularly pleased with the way our journalists handled themselves in what were dangerous and volatile areas of the city at the time.”

The Wolverhampton Express and Star carried 19 pages of coverage yesterday detailing unrest in West Bromwich and Wolverhampton.

Queen Street in Wolverhampton, where the Express & Star is based, was attacked and the paper provided a sequence of photographs taken by photographers and from CCTV sources showing the unrest unfold.

These included the owner of a hair salon trying to fend off attackers, many of them women clutching bags ready to fill with stolen goods.

Other pictures featured yesterday were taken by staff using their mobiles from their windows.

The first edition of the Express and Star, which unlike many regional daily titles is still an evening paper, had a deadline of 10.15am with the final edition going at 2pm yesterday afternoon.

Assistant editor Mark Drew said: ‘It has been a real team effort, with reporters, photographers and production staff working late last night and from 5am this morning to ensure the best coverage for our readers. It also illustrates the value of old fashioned local journalism – and of late editions running into the afternoon.”

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