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Regional press gears up for Beijing Games

The 2008 Beijing Olympics get under way today and regional newspapers are gearing up for their coverage of the two-week sporting jamboree.

Although most regional papers are relying on agencies such as the Press Association to cover the world’s biggest sporting festival, some are sending their own staff or employing freelance correspondents.

They include Scottish morning daily The Herald, North-East daily The Northern Echo, and evening titles The Herald, Plymouth, and The Sentinel, Stoke.

And as reported on HoldtheFrontPage last month, the weekly Kidderminster Shuttle has gone a step further and invited local swimmer Todd Cooper to blog on its website.

In Scotland, The Herald has dispatched one its of most experienced reporters to Beijing. The event is a landmark for Doug Gillon, athletics correspondent, as it is the tenth Olympics he has covered for the Glasgow-based title.

Doug has been reporting from the training camp in Macau, filing around 2,000 words a day of features and news stories. He also writes a blog which can be seen on The Herald’s website.

“It’s vital to have your own man on the scene, seeing things through his own eyes and getting his own take on it,” said James Porteous, The Herald deputy sports editor.

Doug will be closely following tennis star Andy Murray’s progress, while also keeping a close eye on the swimming and Tae Kwon Do events which feature a strong Scottish contingent in the British teams.

The Cambridge Evening News, backed by local builders Ridgeons, have Mark Taylor, a veteran of eight Boat Races and the paper’s rugby and athletics correspondent, in Beijing for the duration of the games.

Mark’s main brief will be to follow the fortunes of 21 competitors within the paper’s circulation area and he will also be posting a blog on the paper’s website.

Sara Raine, sports editor for The Herald in Plymouth, will also be reporting from Beijing, taking a particular interest in 14-year-old West Country diver Tom Daley who will make his Olympic debut this year.

And while The Northern Echo is relying on the Sportsbeat news agency for its main coverage, chief sports writer Scott Wilson will be submitting diary and colour pieces from China.

Meanwhile, the Bristol Evening Post and Western Daily Press are both using freelance Kevin Fahey to deliver news and features on around 40 local athletes from the West Country.

And both the Manchester Evening News and The Sentinel have called upon the services of freelancer Trevor Baxter who will report for them from Beijing.

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