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Daily celebrates warship’s arrival with front page wraparound

A regional daily celebrated a warship’s arrival on its patch with a front page wraparound and eight-page special supplement.

The News, Portsmouth, also offered extensive online coverage when the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier moved in to Portsmouth Harbour after undergoing sea trials since setting sail from Rosyth dockyard in Fife, where it was built, in June.

The News treated the arrival as a “major operation”, with two reporters on Southsea seafront, one on the other side of the harbour in Gosport, one filming from the top of Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower and one in the naval base.

Head of News Tom Morton said readers had waited “years” for the carrier’s arrival.

Portsmouth wrap

He told HTFP: “There’s definitely a significance to her arrival locally; while any ship based in Portsmouth is welcomed warmly, HMS Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales effectively guarantee the future of the naval base for the foreseeable future. It was a real celebration, and attracted people from miles away to the city.

“The carrier was due into the harbour at 7.10am, so we had everyone in place by 6am, plus me in the office co-ordinating the live coverage – the reporters filed colour pieces in the build-up, and then we Facebook Live-streamed the ship passing, including trying out two-way Facebook live streaming with two phones sending into one feed. We were hampered a bit by a weak signal, but it worked.”

The first Facebook Live broadcast reached 310,518 people and was viewed 87,651 times, with more than 550 comments and 3,850 reactions, including likes, comments and shares.

In total, over the course of four broadcasts, The News reached 781,900 people with 21,280 reactions.

Tom added: “Throughout the day the web stories performed very well, with above average pages views and interaction on Facebook. Today’s paper has nine pages of coverage, plus an eight-page souvenir picture pullout.

“And earlier in the week we produced a 40-page magazine all about the carriers – it’s safe to say our defence correspondent Tom Cotterill has earned his keep in the last fortnight.”