A regional daily took to the stage to provide inspiration for its front page after a major event on its patch was cancelled.
The Edinburgh Evening News covered the cancellation of this year’s Edinburgh Festival due to the coronavirus pandemic by splashing on the message ‘We’ll be right back… after the break’.
The front page, published yesterday, depicted various performing artists on a stage with curtains closing.
EEN editor Euan McGrory said the newspaper wanted to provide a “reassuring message” to readers that the famous festival would be returning.
He told HTFP: “There are so many things that are being cancelled or put on hold right now in order to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic that news of an arts festival not going ahead might not seem like a big deal.
“The Fringe and the other Festivals that take over so much of Edinburgh during August are such a big part of the life and identity of the city that it has been one of the defining moments of the crisis so far here.
“The overriding concern of organisers has quite rightly been about keeping as many people as possible safe and well.
“However, many people are worried of course too about the impact on jobs of the city’s tourist trade and festivals grinding to a halt. In short, no Fringe and hotels shutting down means many people will have to take pay cuts or worse.
“We wanted to mark what is a landmark decision for the life of Scotland’s capital with a nod to the reassuring message that our Festivals are determined to return once life gets back to something like normal.”
Hyperlocal newspaper The Isle of Thanet News has produced an ’emergency’ 16-page print edition with helplines, groups, services and information to assist people though the coronavirus crisis.
The paper, put together by a team of four, was turned around over the weekend and delivered via a foodbank and vulnerable persons distribution service, as well as local supermarkets
The aim of the edition is to reach those with limited internet access to make sure they have as much information about the crisis, and where to get help, as possible.
The website has also experienced growth recently, recording 800,000 page views in March.
Kathy said: “We felt that is would be valuable to our community to produce this ‘help’ edition paper. Obviously there were limited funds as advertising is currently in freefall for most news organisations.
“However, we have some very good local companies who have advertised either services during this pandemic or simply messages of support.
“We have also been aided with the pledge of a county councillor’s members’ grant donation to help cover the print run costs.”
Baylis Media owner The Louis Baylis Trust has launched a £10,000 emergency fund to support good causes across its newspapers’ patches during the pandemic.
Successful applicants will also be profiled in the Maidenhead Advertiser, one of the titles it owns.
Advertiser editor James Preston said: “We have been overwhelmed by the selfless work that is taking place in our communities during the crisis.
“We are living in dark days, but it is incredibly heartening to see good causes pulling together to help those who desperately need our support.
“Thank you to the trust for providing this money. Together we can make a difference.”
A series of new advertisements warning people to stay inside have been launched by the government in the national press after calls for public information campaigns to be extended to regional and hyperlocal publishers.
The campaign warns the public that ‘people will die’ if they do not stay at home and feature the slogan: ‘Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.’
According to the Society of Editors, the adverts have been placed in most national newspapers and across a number of social media platforms.
It comes after further calls this week for government campaigns to be extended to the regional press, with Yorkshire Post editor James Mitchinson also leading on calls to extend the 100pc business rates holiday for the retail and hospitality industry to struggling news publishers.
The National Union of Journalists has asked JPIMedia to sign up to a framework setting out the approach to be taken while some staff are on furlough.
Georgina Morris, lead rep for the NUJ JPIMedia group chapel, said: “From an NUJ perspective, the first priority is absolutely the wellbeing and financial security of our members.
“Reps out in workplaces and our officials have been working to support those hardest hit where we can – and we’ll continue to do so.
“We’re also pursuing further talks at a national level with the company to look at the impact of the measures they’re taking and how those are being put in place.
“The key for us is getting all our members back to work and back on their full salaries at the earliest opportunity.”
All 12 members of the News Median Association board have signed a letter urging major retailers to maintain supply levels so newspapers can continue to be available for customers.
In its letter, the NMA said: “Newspapers provide a critical counterpoint to the disinformation about the coronavirus which is swirling online and across social media.
“Newspapers offer a vital information service for the elderly and vulnerable at a time like this.
“News publishers are acutely aware of how much pressure your stores are under and they are doing everything they can to ease that pressure and make sure their newspapers reach you on time and fit in with your new operating arrangements.”
It added: “We therefore hope that you too will recognise the unique service which newspapers provide to the public during the crisis and designate them an essential product in all your stores, maintaining supply levels so that newspapers can continue to be available for your customers.”