Citizen journalists played a starring role in the Hull Daily Mail’s coverage of devastating floods across East Yorkshire.
Mail readers and users of the paper’s website, thisishullandeastriding.co.uk sent in more than 400 images in three days.
A special section was set up on the website inviting users to submit their pictures and four photo slideshows were created, which were updated as new images were received.
The initiative was promoted in paper as part the Mail’s comprehensive coverage of the floods.
Tuesday’s editions of the Mail included nine user-generated photos and the best one made the front page. Many more were published on subsequent days and a 16-page supplement of readers’ pictures was scheduled for today.
The weather washed out sales on the day on the main downpour but the Mail recorded an extra 5,000 sales the next day, despite deliveries being impossible in several areas.
The story also saw a massive increase in web traffic, with more than 350,000 page views on thisishullandeastriding. Video reports on the floods were watched more than 20,000 times and the photo slideshows attracted more than 25,000 viewings.
The contributed images added an extra dimension to the Mail’s coverage, generating content from people at the heart of the devastation in areas that were off limits to staff photographers.
Mail imaging manager Jim Mitchell said: “The images started to come in by e-mail straight away and built gradually throughout the first day of flooding.
“We have been able to respond to people’s personal accounts of the flooding and share them with others. We even received eight photos sent in by a family who had been totally flooded out. Their homes were ruined and their lives had been turned upside down, but they still managed to get to a PC to send their images to us.”
Editor John Meehan said: “We had hundreds of pictures to choose from for our print coverage. For Tuesday’s early editions we chose the most dramatic and unusual images, without looking at the source details, and were amazed to discover that many of them, including the main display pictures on the front, and on pages 5 and 7 were user-generated content.
“Our staff photographers also did a brilliant job recording the chaos, but there were many areas we simply couldn’t get to. That’s where pictures from the public came into their own.
“The citizen snappers ensured we were able to present the most complete photographic coverage ever of a major local story, in print and online.”