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Reporters work through weekend to produce fire special

Journalists cancelled weekend plans to cover a fire which gutted England’s oldest hotel – with their newspaper’s website receiving more than one million page views as a result.

Members of the Exeter Express & Echo editorial team turned out seven pages of copy for yesterday’s edition, which was run with a front page wraparound showing the blaze’s devastation.

One of the Express & Echo’s journalists who is currently holidaying in Holland even worked from their hotel room to help cover the fire, which caused damage to several historic buildings, including the Royal Clarence Hotel.

Early reporter Jamie Hawkins arrived at the scene, at Cathedral Green, Exeter, at 7am on Friday morning.

exeter-fire-wrap

Editor Patrick Phelvin said: “By 10am it appeared the whole incident was being brought to a close, but then the fire reared its head again, setting light to the oldest hotel in England and a historic gem which is much loved in Exeter.

“We had updates online throughout the day with pictures and live video, and then a number of breakout pieces on the history of the buildings involved, reaction from those with a connection to them, the heartwarming stories about bakers taking pasties to the emergency services and harder news pieces, such as the furore surrounding our Police and Crime Commissioner who was snapped taking a selfie at the scene.

“Over the weekend we turned this content into seven pages of news for the Monday edition of the paper, and increased our print run.”

The wraparound, which shows the scene from the Devon & Cornwall police helicopter, was the idea of production editor Bridget Batchelor.

Patrick added it conveyed the “drama and devastation” wrought by the fire.

He continued: “For me the most impressive aspect of the coverage was the way our editorial staff reacted to the situation, trashing their weekend plans to make for some exceptional coverage – one was even helping from a hotel room in Holland, where he was on holiday.

“We were rewarded with over a million page views across the three days and a huge boost to our reputation. Hopefully a sales spike will follow.”

14 comments

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  • November 1, 2016 at 12:57 pm
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    “The wraparound, which shows the scene from the Devon & Cornwall police helicopter, was the idea of production editor Bridget Batchelor.” – Yes what a novel idea, who’d have thought about using an aerial snap of a news scene?

    Why do you run these stories HTFP? It’s only what you would expect from a local news gathering organisation. No more, no less.

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  • November 1, 2016 at 1:27 pm
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    Journalists cancelled weekend plans to cover a fire ….. big deal… what’s so special in that …its what news is all about it’s not 9 to 5 Monday to Friday and never has been.

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  • November 1, 2016 at 1:27 pm
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    Good spread plus updates on the website over the weekend
    . Christmas Editorial party on the Editor !!

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  • November 1, 2016 at 1:42 pm
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    Well, since you ask, because we aim to provide comprehensive coverage of the regional press industry, and alongside the coverage of strikes, job losses and the like, we recognise that this remit includes highlighting the good work done by regional newspapers and their journalists. This wraparound, surely a contender for front page of the year, is an outstanding example of that in my view.

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  • November 1, 2016 at 2:09 pm
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    Tony – a shame to see such a bitter comment on a story celebrating a great effort by a great team of reporters.

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  • November 1, 2016 at 2:14 pm
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    It’s a shame that even on a positive story highlighting successes in the regional news industry, some find room to complain – it’s almost as though some come here for the bad news alone.

    Admittedly I’m biased as I work with those involved but I watched the coverage from a distance this weekend (was away though not in Holland) and thought it was outstanding. Every twist and turn of the fire was covered online while the live feed from Facebook reached half the adult population of Exeter. The paper has even received an abundance of praised from its readers, which anyone who works in local press must admit is rare.

    This proves, in my humble opinion, the appetite for regional news is alive and well. This positive message may not sit too well with some of the naysayers on here who like to believe it’s dead and buried but the proof is in the stats.

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  • November 1, 2016 at 2:16 pm
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    It’s good, old fashioned core journalism enhanced with modern technology. That has to be good – and encouraged.
    Compare and contrast comments on HTFP: “Editorial chief blasts regional press ‘golden age’ claims as ‘tripe’”.

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  • November 1, 2016 at 4:20 pm
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    An excellent job all round by a hard working team. Don’t knock it. I hope sales were good. There is never any harm in highlighting good practice. It should encourage others.

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  • November 1, 2016 at 4:52 pm
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    A humdinger of a front page – well done everyone…

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  • November 1, 2016 at 7:01 pm
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    Congratulations also to my wife who I dragged along at 8am on Saturday morning.
    She’s currently recovering Facebook live arm, a syndrome brought on through holding a phone steady for hours while thousands comment while I dashed between the Echo office and the scene taking photos and keeping abreast of what was happening.
    I also sent her off into two of the burnt buildings to continue the live feed while I was able to get some pics and a higher quality video of the scene.
    She then had to leave me to go back to her day job….

    What a weekend.

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  • November 3, 2016 at 10:47 am
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    Great job EandE – certainly a lot better than some of the dire twitterings I heard from some ‘live’ broadcasts….

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  • November 3, 2016 at 1:40 pm
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    Of course it’s what most of us have always done but why belittle it? It’s great to see the tradition continues with today’s journalists. We worked hard and they do too. Just in a different way. Credit where it’s due. Great work by the Express & Echo team.

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  • November 5, 2016 at 12:34 pm
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    Well done to the Express & Echo in responding to the terrible event with a special feature and wraparound cover, but who wrote the headline? It should say ‘…as 250 years of history ARE lost’, not ‘…IS lost’. Schoolboy/girl grammatical error.

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