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Regionals use digital know-how for war search

Regional newspapers have been thrust into the frontline of a digital age campaign – to help their readers find the whereabouts of a million lost loved ones from the Great War.

Trinity Mirror has taken the lead after unveiling a new widget which searches the records for family members or neighbours who died in the global conflict which started exactly 100 years ago.

The idea – using information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission – came from the publishers’ data journalism unit as part of commemorating World War One’s centenary anniversary.

Tested initially on the national newspaper, it’s now been rolled out to the regions starting at the Manchester Evening News and the Liverpool Echo.

David Ottewell, head of TM’s regional data unit, said a number of readers had already found long-lost relatives or discovered people who had lived in the same street as them.

“It allows readers to find interesting stories and flag them back up to the MEN which is exactly how we want it to work,” he added. “It’s a fantastic source of stories.”

The statistics already unearthed record that 23,792 people from the Greater Manchester area died in WWI, the oldest and youngest casualties, the first and last to perish and the bloodiest day of the four-year conflagration.

All the information will be turned into tabloid-sized pages and used around Trinity’s print titles.