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Local Media Titles Experience Web Traffic Surge as Readers Seek Out Riots Coverage

Local media titles covering outbreaks of rioting across the UK have experienced record levels of web traffic as readers flock to their websites to get the latest updates.

Coverage has included first person accounts from local journalists and photographers reporting from the midst of the rioting, and providing readers with trusted and reliable information amid widespread speculation.

Following a series of disturbances across London at the weekend, outbreaks of rioting occurred across the country and local and regional papers reacted to provide extensive online and print coverage.

On Tuesday rioting broke out on Wolverhampton’s Queen Street, where the Express and Star is based, and staff took photographs from office windows which were published in the paper’s first edition on Wednesday.  The paper featured 19 pages coverage of riots in West Bromwich and Wolverhampton.   

The paper’s website, which features picture galleries and video, recorded a record 853,000 homepage views on Tuesday and the paper was hoping to to go on and break the one million mark.

The Manchester Evening News was covering events online with news updates, video and picture galleries. The paper ran a live blog, updated by reporters throughout Tuesday night, which attracted record numbers of users, averaging about 20,000 throughout the night and peaking at 25,000. The paper’s lead story on the riots had attracted 100,000 page views at 2pm yesterday (Wednesday).  

The Nottingham Post printed two special morning editions of around 10,000 copies on Tuesday and Wednesday after violence broke out in the city. On Tuesday, the paper’s website attracted 120,000 unique users - three times the normal level of traffic. The lead report on Monday night’s violence recorded 64,000 page views and a picture gallery of the aftermath recorded 120,000 page views.

In the west, the Bristol Evening Post also printed 6,000 copies of a special edition on Tuesday morning, featuring images taken by photographers who were on the scene of the riots the previous night.

Online, the paper ran news reports, videos, eye-witness accounts and picture galleries – attracting more than 90,000 unique users and 150,000 page impressions on riot stories.

Northcliffe’s This is Gloucestershire website’s coverage included two picture galleries of reader-submitted pictures which had received more than 473,000 page views as of 2pm on Wednesday. The site has not had traffic at these levels since floods hit the area in 2007. 

The Citizen’s news coverage had attracted around 15,000 unique users by 10am, having been posted just after 3am, more than three times the average traffic for a lead story over 24 hours. Readers were also logging on to use the website’s discussion forums

The Birmingham Mail’s news team worked throughout the night on Tuesday and Wednesday to cover the unrest in the city, posting updates to the paper’s live blog and images and video to the website. The paper recorded more than 100,000 unique users on Tuesday – a record level of traffic for the site – and page views were up more than 300 per cent on average traffic levels.  

The Liverpool Echo’s initial story on the riots has recorded 850,000 page views, making it the most read story on the Trinity Mirror Regionals network. Executive editor Andrew Campbell was driving by the city’s Lodge Lane when a Merseyside Police van was pelted with bottles and bricks.

Echo and Daily Post reporters and photographers worked through Monday night to keep the papers’ websites updated with news, images and video which were also published on social media. The paper also published an interactive map of where the riots were occurring and later a roundup of its coverage.

The first edition of the Echo on Tuesday had its print deadline extended until 2am to include a front page and a spread on the riots. In the second edition, that became seven pages of coverage, including reaction from readers gathered through social media and website comments.

The paper also ran a live blog over Tuesday and Wednesday which was viewed by more than 85,000 people who logged on for an average of more than one hour each.  The Echo website experienced extremely heavy traffic with around 3 million page views and around 400,000 unique users over the two days.

In London, local papers have been covering the fallout of the rioting after a series of violent incidents across the capital. 

The Southwark News has today made an offer of a free ad to all Southwark-based businesses that have been damaged by rioting in a bid to help them back on their feet. The paper also published a poster urging people to support local businesses in the wake of the looting for readers to cut and put in their windows and printed an extra 1,000 copies to be hand delivered to shops. The campaign will also feature in sister title the Lambeth Weekender

Earlier in the week staff from local media titles reported from the midst of the riots. Croydon Advertiser reporter Gareth Davies was assaulted and robbed by rioters at 7.30pm but continued to stay in the midst of the chaos until 5am to cover the story.

He posted regular updates on Twitter and phoned updates back to the Advertiser’s newsroom which were posted online throughout the night – attracting around 40,000 page views as of 1pm on Tuesday.

The Croydon Guardian also ran live updates after hearing that trouble was brewing on its patch with reporters quickly on the scene to cover events first hand. The paper posted video footage and pictures on its website which attracted 23,000 page views in less than 12 hours.  

And from Monday to Wednesday, three websites in publisher Newsquest’s south west London division - News Shopper, Croydon Guardian and Your Local Guardian -  attracted nearly 2.2 million page views and more 570,000 unique users – a record for the network.  

Elsewhere in the capital, the Enfield Independent experienced a massive surge of traffic on Sunday with 203,000 page views recorded in 24 hours – the largest number for any Newsquest daily or weekly title that day. After the first disturbances in Tottenham on Saturday, the paper had launched a London Riots micro site with video, picture galleries and regular news updates.  

In west London, the Ealing Gazette achieved a record number of page views for any single story from its Trinity Mirror Southern stable - 31,000 page views on its lead story on the riots.

The paper sent reporter and photographer to the centre of Ealing at 6pm on Monday and the pair worked into the night to keep the website updated.  Like Gareth in Croydon, reporter Michael Russell was also assaulted when rioters pushed him to the ground and stole his camera.

In north London, the Willesden and Brent Times team were in the office late on Monday night posting updates to the website which saw a substantial rise in traffic. Reporter Tom Barnes went to the scene when rioting broke out on Harlesden High Street and followed looters for an hour as they broke into shops, getting reaction from horrified business owners.

In east London, Hackney Gazette senior reporter Emma Bartholomew went to Hackney Central to report on events on Monday evening as the mood in the area darkened and crowds gathered.

She stayed on the scene for three hours speaking to onlookers and gathering reaction as police blocked off areas in a bid to disperse troublemakers, posting an update on the Gazette’s website just before 12am

The South London Press was working on gathering reaction to disturbances and attempting to sum up what the experience meant for the capital. 

The NS is the voice of Britain’s local media, the UK’s most trusted medium. It represents 1,100 newspapers, 1,700 websites and other print, digital and broadcast channels.