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Newspaper drops paywall for coronavirus-related stories

Stephen McIlkennyA daily newspaper has dropped its paywall for all stories about coronavirus in a bid to keep readers informed about the outbreak.

Glasgow-based daily The Herald has made the decision, saying it believes it is “important” the public is kept up to date on COVID-19.

The UK recorded its first death from the virus on Thursday and the death toll has since risen to three.

The Herald’s policy was announced the following day by digital editor Stephen McIlKenny, pictured.

He posted on Twitter: “In a bid to keep readers informed on the latest coronavirus news, The Herald will have its paywall off on all articles on the outbreak.

“We believe it is important that all members of the public should be kept up to date on the COVID-19 outbreak and the latest developments.”

Henry Ainslie, assistant editor at the Herald, said: “The coronavirus outbreak is one of the most pressing issues affecting Scotland and the rest of the world at present, and it’s vitally important the public is provided with as much information as possible from trusted sources.

“The Herald team, led by our award-winning health correspondent Helen McArdle, is working extremely hard to provide the latest news and updates on the virus across all sections – health, politics and business – and we believe that content should be available as freely as possible to our readers and the wider public.”

He added: “For that reason, all content related to the outbreak of COVID-19 will be free to access at

“We have also created a special section on our homepage for ease of access to coronavirus content, as well as live daily coverage.”

JPIMedia last week decided to close all its reception desks while the NCTJ has advised some students to defer their exams.

The News Media Association has also written to cabinet office minister Michael Gove seeking assurance that news media outlets will be designated as an essential service in the event that restrictions are placed on movement in order to contain the outbreak.

NMA legal advisor Catherine Courtney wrote: “Steps need to be taken to minimise the impact of disruption on the supply chain and support its continuity.

“You may recall that arrangements were put in place at the time of the fuel protests in 2000 to designate the newspaper industry as eligible for priority supply of petrol, with the backing of the Home Office.

“Before that, newspapers were exempted from restrictions on electricity consumption and the three-day week announced in December 1973.

“We trust that appropriate provisions to facilitate the flow of news to the public can be incorporated in emergency planning arrangements for the coronavirus.”

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  • March 9, 2020 at 10:54 am

    There’s more than enough in the nationals,on radio and tv and on every social media news platform already so maybe this policy is more about not missing out on clicks and page visits and enabling 24/7 click attracting news reports to be posted rather than being a public service

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