The Overall Digital Award

Scroll down to meet the nominees for the Regional Press Awards Overall Digital Award, sponsored by Facebook Journalism Project.

Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.

The Facebook Journalism Project is committed to strengthening communities by connecting people with meaningful journalism. As part of our work, the Facebook News Partnerships team collaborates with publishers, broadcasters, journalists, universities and other stakeholders across the news industry globally to promote quality journalism.

Our teams partner with news organisations to develop products and tools for newsrooms. The Partnerships team are also committed to training journalists, hosting workshops and sessions in newsrooms as well as providing online training and resources.

The Shortlist

The judges will look for the newspaper that produces the best journalism and service to readers on a range of platforms whether this be website, mobile or any other means. Special attention will be made to innovation and use of social media including blogs.

ChronicleLive, Newcastle Chronicle

Supporting statement:

ChronicleLive pursues modern journalism with a clear set of brand values. We are responsive (live, on-trend); trustworthy (accurate, accountable); and authentic (approachable, like you). 

We were the country’s first purely digital newsroom after the award-winning Newsroom 3.1 publishing model piloted here. Since then, audience has grown by 200%. Our record was broken in July 2019 with 33m page views and we are the biggest news website in the North East. 

Among our most-read stories in 2019 was coverage of the murder of solicitor Peter Duncan in Newcastle. We later worked closely with the courts to name the teenage murderer at midnight on his 18th birthday, and published an explanation for readers of why we had not legally been able to name him before. It received over 100,000-page views and clearly demonstrated a need for public interest explanation journalism. This was just one example of our modern court reporting, served through live updates packed with courtroom drama from Newcastle Crown Court each day. 

Our Facebook page is one of the UK’s fastest growing and powers a suite of groups which have over 52,000 members – membership has more than doubled in 12 months. These include a breaking news group with 30,000 followers and a traffic and travel group covering the region’s roads. Our local democracy reporters run groups focused on council planning matters, while our community reporters engage with readers via groups shining a light on under-served communities in Newcastle’s East and West End. 

Our Instagram strategy has grown our following to nearly 50,000 with a combination of pictures, local photographer takeovers, and stories focusing on what’s on, nightlife, property and nostalgia. Weekend Instagram stories showcase the people and businesses using the platform to make the North East more interesting, beautiful or community-focused, such as this profile of local tattoo artists.

Our Everything is Black and White Newcastle United podcast achieved 700,000 listens during 2019 and is sponsored to deliver local revenue. We have recorded from London and Shanghai, showing the commitment of the team to the format. We hosted three successful live recordings in 2019, donating proceeds to the NUFC Fans Foodbank, which supports Newcastle’s West End Foodbank, the biggest in the UK. 

2019 saw us take the podcast in a new direction by launching our first audio documentary covering the legacy of Sir Bobby Robson in his fight against cancer. The ‘pod-umentary’, which took three months to make, featured big names of the sporting world, including Alan Shearer, and is a polished documentary which provokes laughter and tears. 

We ran our first Newcastle Loves event in 2019, adding to our successful events portfolio. It celebrated the best places to eat, drink and play in a city renowned for knowing how to show people a good time. The public response was incredible: we opened ten categories to online vote and were blown away to receive over 20,000.

Judges’ Comments:  

Great stats, strong content and a real sense of being in touch with its audience.

The Chronicle Live continues to build a brand strategy that utilises digital skills across a range of delivery platforms and outlets.

EDP24, Eastern Daily Press & Norwich Evening News

With page views and readers increasing on the EDP24 website, the challenge was to keep those readers on the site for longer. To ensure this, a series of interactive tools were implemented to enhance articles and increase audience engagement. 

To visualise the increasing use of data in articles, Infogram and Flourish platforms have helped our team create engaging and interactive graphics which are an integral part of our storytelling. In 2019 the EDP24 website created 900 infographics which 2.8m readers clicked on, including:

– The Norfolk & Norwich Hospital repeatedly had the worst-performing A&E waiting times – as shown in these charts.

–  The Deprivation Index was updated in 2019 for the first time in five years, showing how deprived each neighbourhood was. This was illustrated on the EDP24 website with a postcode search and a map.

– The updated Deprivation Index also allowed us to create a searchable table, charts and map looking at how deprivation affected education.

– A recent addition to infographics is the animated map as seen in this article on the most dangerous roads in Norfolk based on figures released in September 2019. The article – which had 19,000 Page Views – told the story through static maps, animated maps and charts.

– Readers can now click through the arrows on a map to see how a story unfolds which worked perfectly in this piece on how a new bypass has affected roads within Norwich.

– With Brexit dominating both national and local news in 2019, we created a clickable guide for readers to see how their local MP voted on particular issues.

Through Apester, polls, quizzes and backgrounders have not only kept our readers engaged for longer on our articles but have also generated a five-figure income in 2019. The EDP24 website created 140 of these interactive items for use in relevant articles, with 500,000 people engaging with them. Highlights include:

– In December, with the General Election approaching, the EDP24 website created a personality quiz telling our readers which party they should vote for based on their answers. The quiz – along with various graphics – kept thousands on the site for four minutes longer than average.

– With Key Stage Two tests coming under fire in July, the EDP24 site asked its readers to take their own test and 5,000 readers did.

– The ongoing saga of a shopping centre re-development in Norwich was enhanced with this backgrounder created in Apester which 8,000 readers spent an extra three minutes reading.

– A search through the archives helped create this backgrounder of 100 years of council housing.

The EDP24 website’s live reporting platform was used to great effect in 2019, providing live coverage of every Norwich City game as they gained promotion to the Premier League, counts at local elections, GCSE and A-Level results, the 2019 General Election and Black Friday.

Judges’ Comments:  

Use of infographics and data visualisation tools are customised to tell individual stories.

Great use of data and digital skills to bring local stories to life for audiences.

KentOnline, IM News

Supporting statement:

KentOnline is published by Iliffe Media Group, an independent with a fraction of the resource available to Reach, Newsquest or JPI Media.

Despite being smaller, our ambitions are vast and KentOnline is recognised as one of the country’s leading news networks. 

However, our digital team do far more than just KentOnline. 

Our podcast audience is growing at a huge rate, benefiting massively from our integrated multimedia news team who also oversee our radio content. This means our podcasts are voiced by experienced and talented newsreaders with exceptionally high production values. 

Our innovative app, IM News, has been entered into the digital initiative category and offers a groundbreaking experience on tablet or mobile. 

It automatically publishes daily ‘newspaper’ editions in app format from digital content without the need for human intervention, whilst offering a breaking news experience in an ad-free environment on mobile.

Whilst we love to innovate, providing exceptional news coverage of Kent remains our bread and butter. 

2019 saw KentOnline continue to develop its offering. Audience growth continued apace – with page impressions up 39% year-on-year (source: Google Analytics) – but there has been a particular emphasis of looking beyond the headline figures.

Our suite of analytics tools gives reporters and editors unparalleled detail about the impact of their stories, and this has resulted in a noticeable shift in editorial tone in favour of stories that truly engage our audience.

We have also continued to develop our unique relationship with the University of Kent, with whom we run KMTV on a joint venture basis.

We were the only regional publisher to live stream a ten-hour election night broadcast on KentOnline, with coverage of election counts across Kent and dozens of studio guests.

We produce weekly news, sport and politics podcasts; sport was downloaded 43,000 times in 2019 despite the lack of any Premiership or Championship football teams on patch.

We have also continued to refine the relationship with our social audience, with some of our Facebook groups now developing their own identities. 

We manage a Facebook group which has grown to more than 12,000 members in a matter of months. It is now a regular source of user-generated breaking and exclusive news, some of which is selected for use on KentOnline.

Among our most successful ‘high impact stories’ – those that performed well for both page impressions, dwell time and user engagement – was our investigation into the gambling industry in Kent.

Our reporter was able to place bets at bookmakers across Kent, despite ‘self-excluding’ himself – exposing worrying flaws in the system: 

A mum who killed her young twins was one of the year’s most shocking stories. Again, patient work building up trust resulted in the exclusive interview with the children’s grieving father. Another sensitively-handled story that generated huge interest was our interview with one of the UK’s youngest transgender children, who is just three.

Judges’ Comments: 

An overall strategy that brings the best of editorial and blends it with digital opportunities.

Given the limited resources made available at Iliffe, this entry is worthy of being rewarded and two key points stand out: good use of analytics to increase user engagement + release of new app for subscribers.

Supporting statement:

While welcoming our 20% year-on-year page view growth, 2019 was very much about connecting with our loyal audience, innovating, diversifying and sharing content across multiple platforms.

An early adopter of podcasting, Liverpool FC’s Champions League campaign saw our Blood Red team record 14 broadcasts in Liverpool, Dublin and Spain, clocking up 327,634 listens and making it, then, the best-ever week for streams on the channel.

We monetised this brand appeal by taking Blood Red to Dublin teaming up with our colleagues in Ireland and Carlsberg to record a live version of the show at Dublin’s DTwo venue.

Liverpool FC’s Champions League win was a nail-biting journey for fans that we captured using digital storytelling platform Shorthand. Combining match reports from our Liverpool writers with statistics and fans’ memories, Let’s Talk About Six was initially created as part of our build-up coverage to the final and updated to celebrate the win.

And we diaried the emotional rollercoaster in our live coverage hosted on our dedicated live-blogging platform – with reporters in Madrid and Liverpool contributing news, pictures and videos to a blog that generated 1,000,000-page views and 14,000 shares.

Engaging locally was key to our 2019 strategy and the strength of our political coverage prompted a pre-election Question time-type debate hosted by our political editor. We broadcast the event live on Facebook using advanced in-stream commenting systems as part of an exclusive trial with the social media platform.

Over the past year we have explored different ways of telling stories that are at the heart of our community. In 2019 this included 24 hours of food in Liverpool – a long-read which recorded a snapshot of people’s relationship with food and drink in hourly slots, from a breast-feeding group to a belligerent customer in a Chinese restaurant at 3am.

And we also experimented with long-form content. We wanted to portray The Grand National in a new, engaging way that reflected both its position as a major historical event and a modern, exciting day out today. So, we used Shorthand to create 53 reasons the Grand National is the greatest sporting event in the world, combining sharp design, archive images, racing expertise and local knowledge to create a fascinating, informative and fun read.

We also used this engaging platform to tell the story of Britain’s most used gun – complementing our excellent but more traditional news coverage.

And while the trial of the gangland murders of Paul Massey and John Kinsella attracted 900,000 page views and was promoted in our 44,000-strong court Facebook page perhaps the most engaged content was an exclusive audio/video interview with the detective who cracked the case with 170,000 views on the Echo’s YouTube channel.

With a daily news report on Alexa, 63,000 daily app users and 12,000 daily newsletter recipients, mobile and desktop sites, podcasts, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and a daily newspaper, Echo content has never been more accessible.

Judges’ Comments:  

A great all-round offer with great content and engagement on multiple platforms and brilliant reach. Use of all digital tools available to tell stories to users wherever they are.

Big ticket events but also community at its heart.

Reach Data Unit

Supporting statement:

Last year, the data unit explored new ways to bring important journalism to readers across regional sites using new digital techniques and innovative ways of presenting data.

The data unit believes it is always important to embrace new storytelling techniques to engage readers in different ways and ensure issues of vital importance to our communities can be illuminated.

A major investigation into Universal Credit was months in the making, combining several sets of data for the first time in a standalone long-form site for each of the newsrooms involved. The mini-sites bring together detailed research alongside innovative, animated data visualisations, with case studies to bring the figures to life. 

At a time of growing concerns about the impact of UC nationally, this data project sheds light on the devastating human cost of these policies at a local level. 

The sites have brought in thousands of page views across the network, with an impressive average engaged time of 15 minutes thanks to their creative use of data visualisation.    

Last year, the data unit expanded into podcasting with The North in Numbers for the Reach-wide Laudable project. 

The first of its kind, this local data-led podcast tells the human stories behind various statistics for the north of England, bringing together data analysis, wider research, and key interviews with experts and those most affected to provide new insight into vital issues that have a major impact on the north – whether that’s the huge increase in homelessness, the rise of knife crime, or the boom in restaurants seen across the region.

The focus on people, and the addition of images, links and data visualisation through Entale, helps engage a wider audience in statistics – which can otherwise feel impenetrable for many. 

For our election coverage, the data unit wanted to take its previous offering to a new level and produced a live results interactive, as well as  adding a prediction tab and improving functionality to give readers more information on how the night was potentially unfolding.

The prediction functionality was powered by building detailed spreadsheets using complex formulas to apply the swing in seats that had already been announced to the seats still to come. So within a handful of seats being announced, the data unit team was able to start predicting what would happen in individual seats, with a good degree of accuracy, which strengthened as more seats came in.

This technical work meant readers could see the potential outcome for their seat, and it also allowed the team to update newsrooms across the country with potential shock losses before results were in – we were able to predict a number of the losses in the red wall hours before results came in, such as Dennis Skinner losing his long-held Bolsover seat and Stoke turning blue.

Additional functionality meant new ways to highlight the results, such as being able to toggle to a hexagon-style map, and the option to highlight gains, particularly useful in an election where long-held seats switched party.

Judges’ Comments:  

A continuous feed of news you can use that is easily syndicated and meets users needs.

Some really high-quality content that will bring significant added value to Reach publications. Very impressive and a well put together submission. The entry really stood out.


Supporting statement:

WalesOnline’s vision is to engage, inform, entertain and challenge a growing audience with authoritative and authentic content that’s relevant to and representative of the lives of our readers across Wales and beyond. We do that through delivering high quality content across a range of platforms, backed up by industry-leading analytics use that ensures we’re consistently reaching audiences in the most impactful way possible. Here’s a flavour of how we do that:

* Our website: Consistently outperforming on key loyalty metrics like average engaged time and proportion of loyal users, WalesOnline uses a specialist breaking news team to ensure we’re the go-to location for major news breaks like the Emiliano Sala plane crash or the Cwm Taf maternity scandal, but also daily commuting issues, emergency service incidents and court proceedings, all routinely covered live. In addition, our pioneering long-read strategy focuses on representing our communities, their people, and the issues that matter to them, wherever it’s Universal Credit, regeneration, addiction, multiculturalism or domestic abuse, all accompanied by fantastic stills and unique video from our in-house team of producers, photographers and videographers. In 2019 our audience grew to a record 46m monthly page views.

* Our ever-growing app is a home to our most loyal users, where an average 40,000 users visit us daily, fuelled by a data-driven, locally-segmented push notification strategy that brings them key news breaks as and when they happen.

* Social media: Once again, our engagement rates – 23m engagements across our social footprint – were, pound-for-pound, almost unrivalled in the industry. 8.94m engagements on our main brand Facebook page in 2019 was more than any other regional title achieved, and more than many national titles. We launched The Gain Line, a daily live TV show covering rugby, and produced numerous made-for-social videos reaching more than a million users – generally by depicting engaging tales of average people doing remarkable things. In 2019 we added NewportOnline to a stable of 19 Facebook pages, 19 Twitter accounts and nine Facebook groups.

* Podcasts: Our flagship Welsh Rugby Podcast grew enormously in 2019, increasing to three episodes a week and reaching more than 20,000 weekly streams during the Rugby World Cup, and reaching no.5 in the iTunes sport chart in the week we released a special episode with Lions captain Sam Warburton. Other titles in our stable are Blakey’s Bootroom and Standing On The North Bank, covering Cardiff and Swansea City respectively, while the Martin Shipton Meets… series showcases long-form interviews with our chief reporter.

* Newsletters: Our portfolio of newsletters includes twice-daily news and rugby bulletins and bring an average of 5,000 users to the site each day. Others include a weekly briefing by our political editor Ruth Mosalski and ICYMI, a round-up of our best original journalism, each Saturday morning.

* WhatsApp: We’ve signed up around 3,500 people to our rugby bulletins on WhatsApp, giving us a closer connection than ever before to our readers, and also allowing them to submit questions in audio to our podcasts and Facebook broadcasts.

Judges’ Comments:  

A really impressive approach to digital journalism with all bases covered. A strategy for a Nation that relies on community as well as digital technology.

Overall great use of digital tool: push notification, live video, facebook groups, podcasts and newsletter + whatsapp rugby updates.