Staff at Somerset weekly rush out quake special

When an earthquake struck hours after the Somerset County Gazette had gone to press, journalists rushed out an eight-page wrap and hand delivered it themselves.

The quake happened at 8.30pm last Thursday and measured three on the Richter scale, strong enough to be felt across the Gazette’s circulation area.

With the paper already in newsagents, Newsquest Somerset editor-inchief Ken Bird decided on Friday morning the story warranted putting together a special edition.

Bird said: “There wasn’t widespread death and destruction but it was a major talking point so we approached it in quite a light-hearted way.

“At 10am we decided to go with it and by 11am we had finished selling the advertising. We had the pages done by 1.15pm, it was printed in Southampton at 2.30pm and then back here at 5pm.

“It was good fun and I’ve not known a team come together and turn something around so quickly before.”

Twenty staff went out with batches of the 20,000 special editions and inserted them into the main paper by hand at major retailers.

The wrap included a main news story, background from geologists and a vox pop asking residents “Did the earth move for you?”. Enough advertising was sold to cover production costs. The Gazette is a weekly with a circulation of 31,000.

By Dominic Ponsford

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