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‘Stuck bottom’ NIB becomes splash after global interest

Just two weeks ago, it was a sombre tribute to mark the 70th anniversary of a wartime bombing which killed more than 100 people in a UK town.

And this week, the splash was a cartoon depicting the rescue of an unfortunate reveller who somehow managed to get her rear end stuck between pillars of a wall.

The month of July has certainly given East Grinstead Courier & Observer the chance to show off the full range of its journalistic talents in coming up with an eye-catching front page.

News editor David Farbrother said the ‘stuck bottom’ article had been the paper’s most popular web story of the year, with 6,388 unique visitors over two days and 7,811 page impressions in total.

It was also the ninth most popular online story across all Local World titles when first published on Tuesday.

“Those are huge figures for a newspaper like ours, and it seems the sort of figures advertisers take note of,” he told HTFP.

A bum deal: this story is the most-read online story this year for the Courier & Observer

“Because it’s been so popular and re-tweeted so much, we splashed on it.

“Our cartoon and technical whizz Alex Leys took a little persuasion this was a story worthy of his time and talent but he’s come up with the goods again, as he did our bombing front page design.”

The lady in question had been enjoying a night out on the town and went to sit down on the wall, but became firmly wedged in. Firefighters had to be called in to free her.

David said they were careful not to make the woman’s derriere look too big as, by all accounts, she was not actually a big woman and they did not want to insult her.

He said he realised carrying the story on the front page might be a risk, but decided the contrast with the serious nature of the bomb memorial edition was an interesting one.

“From the sublime to the ridiculous – I’m still not sure he thinks it’s a worthy front page. Time will tell whether we made the right call on that or not,” he said.

“The odd, and interesting thing from my perspective is that it’s such a seemingly trivial story, yet it’s becoming our biggest story of the year, certainly online, when it could have been little more than an eye-catching nib.

“It shows the diversity of local news and the ridiculous way in which a silly story can become a web sensation.

By comparison, the paper two weeks ago carried a sombre tribute to the town's wartime dead

“Our initial tweets about the story were re-tweeted by all manner of people and we’ve had approaches from news agencies as far afield as New York asking if they can run the story. And of course, some of our less scrupulous rivals have just lifted our story, together with the quotes that reporter Sam Satchell got, in its entirety.

“I’m not sure quite what our readers in genteel East Grinstead will make of this. Our web audience is different to our paper audience, I understand there is perhaps as little as a 15 per cent crossover.

“And it’s a bit of a risk, we don’t generally like to put cartoons on the front page, they are more of a page three thing.

“I guess we’ll have to see if sales soar this week – or bottom out.”

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  • July 26, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Mmm. Might be a big difference between a viral web audience and your average East Grinstead print reader. Still, good luck to them – better than the ‘Daffodils vandalised’ splash I remember in the Courier a few years back.

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