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Quake brings reader boost across Kent titles

Blanket coverage of the biggest earthquake in Kent for almost 60 years has resulted in a readership boost for the Kent Messenger Group.

The quake, which measured 4.3 on the Richter scale, hit the area at 8.19am on April 28 and caused extensive damage in the Folkestone area as well as rumours of a massive explosion.

The quake prompted three of the company’s photographers to head to the scene, two of them not even on duty. They were soon joined by reporters who gave up their days off, news editors and editors.

Kent Online carried the first information on the breaking story within minutes and received a 280 per cent increase in hits on the Saturday and an 160 per cent rise in hits on the Sunday.

With so many troops on the ground taking pictures, gathering information and conducting interviews, the Kentish Express in Ashford and Folkestone, Kentish Gazette in Canterbury and East Kent Mercury in Dover and Deal were able to produce a 16-page supplement called The Day The Earth Shook on Thursday.

This was promoted in KMG’s free papers, the Extra, via special news bills, ads on its kmfm radio stations and a banner ad on Kent Online.

Reporter Michael DeFroand was expecting a quiet weekend picking up the usual picture jobs when the tremor struck.

He said: “I had just walked into the office and was sitting down to a cup of coffee when the whole building swayed.

“Minutes later the phones would not stop ringing with readers letting us know what they had felt and asking if we knew what had happened.”

The team started gathering information for their respective newspapers, and also helped keep the KMG’s kmfm radio stations up to date and provided extensive coverage of the breaking story online.

Senior editor for South and East Kent Leo Whitlock said: “It was great to see my team inspired by a massive breaking story and jumping out of bed to be involved.

“Everyone from photographers, reporters, news editors, the production desk, broadcast and web journalists and the newspaper sales team have really pulled together and it shows.

“Our coverage really is something to be proud of this week and the readers and listeners have responded. Newsagents in Folkestone and Hythe have been reporting a number of sell outs since Thursday and our newspaper sales team is working extremely hard to satisfy demand.

“With the number of hits on Kent Online and the rate newspapers are flying off of the shelf, it shows that when something big breaks in Kent people look to us to keep them up-to-date.”