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Daily produces 40-minute documentary in bid to find missing man

A regional daily has broken online engagement records after producing a 40-minute documentary about a missing man.

More than 1,000 people have signed up to the website of Aberdeen daily the Press & Journal in order to watch ‘Missing from The Broch: The Disappearance of Shaun Ritchie’.

Mr Ritchie, 20, vanished from Fraserburgh on 31 October 2014, after travelling with friends in a van to a remote farm, when a disturbance took place at the location leading the group to disperse.

While his friends all returned safely, Shaun was never seen again, and his disappearance has been one of Police Scotland’s biggest ever missing persons investigations.

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The documentary sheds new light on the case, for the first time naming all of those who were present on that night and revealing that an axe attack allegedly took place on the same night at the same location.

However, police say this was not linked to Shaun’s disappearance and maintain that they do not believe any criminality was involved.

P&J impact investigations reporter Sean O’Neil worked closely with a wider team on the documentary – including Mhairi Edwards, Blair Dingwall, Gregor Aiken and Kenny Elrick who carried out direct filming.

Clarke Cooper created graphics for the piece, audio producer Morven McIntyre provided voiceovers and sound support, Drew Farrell edited the documentary and story designer Cheryl Livingstone was responsible for the launch plan.

The entire project took several months from the initial idea put forward by Sean, through to the launch.

Sean said: “Missing from The Broch: The Disappearance of Shaun Ritchie was several months in the making and thankfully it appears to have resonated with our audience.

“Shaun has been missing for seven years and our documentary was able to bring fresh information to public attention for the first time and hopefully can help get the answers his family so desperately want.

“The documentary was a collaborative effort between Impact/Content Development and AV. I first pitched the idea in April having followed Shaun’s case for a number of years and started pre-interviews and on-camera interviews in May.

“Some, like Police Scotland, took four months from initial contact, chasing up, to them sitting down in front of camera.

“That allowance for time, and the co-operation of Shaun’s friends and family, were the key elements to the documentary’s success and in bringing Shaun’s case to a new light.”

A social media video trailer was published by the P&J on the seventh anniversary of Mr Ritchie’s disappearance and, according to the newspaper, received 15.5 times more engagement than expected.

The 40-minute documentary has also had more than 3,500 plays since it was published.

Richard Prest, DC Thomson’s head of content development, said: “This was a hugely important piece of work by the team to help a family shed light on the disappearance of their loved one, Shaun Ritchie.

“We chose to tell his story as a documentary as it was the best way to convey the impact on those involved as well as guiding our subscribers through the important, but complex, chain of events that led to his disappearance.

“We can only hope that our work helps identify relevant information that brings some form of closure to his family.”