Website of the Year

Scroll down to meet the nominees for Regional Press Awards Website of the Year.

Website of the Year is sponsored by Google News Initiative 

The Google News Initiative is Google’s effort to help journalism thrive in the digital age through evolving business models to drive sustainable growth, elevating quality journalism and empowering new organisations with new technologies. We collaborate with the news industry to build a stronger future for journalism through our products, partnerships and programmes.

The Shortlist

The judges looked for excellent reporting, writing or flair and innovation in content, design and delivery and interaction with readers and will seek to recognise journalistic achievement online. 

Belfast Telegraph

Supporting statement:

The Belfast Telegraph website leads the way for digital audiences in Northern Ireland, with a mix of breaking news, live or rolling coverage, in-depth reporting, analysis and opinion.

Our work in 2019 highlights our strategic focus on quality regional content and original digital reporting, with prominence given to important stories that matter to our audience. It shows we are distinctively Northern Irish, are passionate about conversations and debate and put people at the heart of our stories. 

The Belfast Telegraph is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2020, and in the past 12 months, we have embarked on a journey to reinvent our digital strategy as a regional publisher towards a more sustainable business model. This work precedes the introduction of a freemium paywall later this year. 

To be successful, we are committed to strengthening our digital output, with an emphasis on high quality coverage, intelligent storytelling, premium content and meaningful audience engagement: local journalism that our digital readers will want to pay for.

The Belfast Telegraph site has covered all the big Northern Ireland stories of 2019, thanks to its team of reporters, photographers and videographers.

Our Brexit Voices project, which allowed our team of digital reporters to produce long-form digital journalism over the course of a few weeks, transformed how we told the Brexit story on the website.

Our ambition was to develop a slower news format that served our audience at a time of uncertainty. It also reflected on as many aspects of life in Northern Ireland and its diversity as possible, through the prism of Brexit.

For example, we met fishermen and employees of the fish processing industry at Kilkeel Harbour to hear about their hopes, fears and frustrations. We talked to farmers across the Brexit divide. We featured students and an EU migrant who didn’t have a say during the referendum and also met people living in border areas. 

Our project was 5,000 words and included seven video and audio stories. It showcased fantastic portraits and pictures from across Northern Ireland. It was broken into topics and allowed our readers to directly consume or share bitesize chunks of coverage. 

It went live to complement our coverage the week of the European Election last May, giving it depth and colour. It was unique content our competitors didn’t have.

Live blogs, videos, podcasts, newsletters and data-rich coverage produced by our team of digital reporters formed a key part of our day-to-day offering in 2019, complementing the content and analysis produced by the wider Belfast Telegraph newsroom.

Beyond Brexit, important stories included the murder of journalist Lyra McKee by dissident republicans during rioting in Derry-Londonderry in April 2019. On the day that followed her murder, we delivered over 800,000 pageviews and reached 287,000 users on the site. On the day of her funeral, we delivered over 685,000 pageviews to 194,000 users.

We also covered the surge of middle-ground political party Alliance at the Local, European and General elections. In May we provided, for the first time, real-time results for 819 candidates who stood in the 2019 local government elections, as 462 councillors were elected across 11 councils. Our data-centred results coverage, which we put behind a registration wall, attracted more users to the Belfast Telegraph website than ever before for a local council election.

The platform was reused for the overnight results coverage of the snap UK General Election in December in Northern Ireland’s 18 constituencies.

The Open Championship in July was one of the major stories of the year, as the golf tournament finally returned to Northern Ireland after 68 years.

We produced comprehensive digital coverage in the build-up to and during the week of the event. Our digital sports reporters were on site at Royal Portrush for eight days in order to write feature articles setting the scene, such as exclusive interviews with some of the top golfers. During the four days of tournament, they provided live updates from the first tee times to the close of play to ensure our readers could follow the event in its entirety. The expert coverage was supplemented by interviews with the golfers to get immediate reaction to the big moments, from Rory McIlroy’s emotional response to missing the cut to Shane Lowry’s joy at his first major victory, and behind-the-scene features with the local people behind the event. Our ambition was to offer our digital audience unparalleled, as-live coverage of an historic sporting week. Our website was noted by officials at Royal Portrush as a leading local source of Open coverage.

Throughout the year we also continued to use data to tell important stories and developed searchable tables. Popular data-rich, Northern Ireland-focused initiatives included our Top 100 Companies, School League (A Level and GCSE) and Transfer Test education tables, providing best in class content in the region.

2019 was a record year for the Belfast Telegraph team whose hard work delivered an additional six million pageviews compared to the previous year, as we reached and surpassed the 200 million pageviews milestone for the second year in a row.

The site delivered over 207 million page impressions in 2019 in total (+3% YoY) – an average of 17.3 million page impressions and 3.2 million unique visitors per month. 

In 2019 we launched a registration wall, only giving free access to premium content to users who are willing to register with us. The strategy proved so successful that we achieved our 100,000 registered users’ milestone ahead of schedule, also growing our newsletter subscribers and newsletter portfolio. 

Both the proportion of gated content on the site and the number of loyal users (users with at least 40 sessions in the last 28 days) trended upwards throughout the year. 

Mobile channels, including the Belfast Telegraph app (12% pageviews) and our newly relaunched mobile site (51% pageviews), continued to deliver the fastest growth last year (desktop and tablet now account for 26% and 11% of our traffic respectively).

Judges’ Comments:

Brexit voices just one of a string of imaginative measures that keep this site focused on the real stories.

Brexit Voices was superb and an all-round good website, not afraid to do something different.

Impressive reach and growth through quality news reporting.

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. 

Responsible publishing is at the heart of what we do, and in one of 2019’s top-performing stories, live coverage of an incident in Gateshead being described on social media as a child abduction, we published a prominent post explaining why we were NOT reporting rumours and a widely circulating picture of a van which turned out to be unconnected. 

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.

At ChronicleLive we pride ourselves on being right at the very heart of the community we serve. We are part of the fabric of Tyneside – we love the area, its people and its spirit. 

The audience might, knowledge and digital publishing prowess we have built up, and our strength in the North East on social media, means we can be sure we’re answering the questions our readers are asking and engaging with their views, whether that be through the Newcastle East and West End Facebook groups operated by our community reporters, or through annual events such as Chronicle Champions, which now receives hundreds more votes than ever thanks to our social media.

Judges’ Comments:

Clever use of podcast and imaginative content make this site a real contender.

Good innovation and audience strategy. And great content.

HullLive, Hull Daily Mail

Supporting statement:

Hull Live – the biggest news website in Yorkshire – is reaching more people than ever before with our engaging and entertaining mix of content across our website and app. 

In 2019, Hull Live broke every audience record it had and received more than 199 million page views – an increase of almost 30 per cent on the previous year.

We have one of the most engaged and loyal audiences in regional media. In 2019, there were 34 million unique visits to our site with almost 40 per cent of users coming to Hull Live at least every other day.

The Hull Live app has more than 45,000 users who read an average of seven stories per visit. Live coverage is at the heart of our site but we also

Our entries show how we are breaking news, building loyal audiences and using our platform to campaign for social issues, cementing our position as the biggest and best news website in Yorkshire. 

The disappearance of Libby Squire

Within minutes of the disappearance of Libby Squire being announced by police, we launched a live blog which was filled with minute-by-minute updates until her body was tragically found weeks later.

Our coverage broke all previous records for our website, with more than 19 million page views in a month and over one million page views in a single day for the first time.

But it wasn’t simply about reporting the story – we wanted to help. 

We created a missing person poster which was shared 11,000 times on Facebook, reaching more than 780,000 people. We did a number of live Facebook videos from police press conferences, the scene of searches and the location Libby was last seen.

We posted on Facebook asking people to share a simple heart emoji to show that Libby and her family were in their thoughts. It generated more than 10,000 comments of support.

We knew people in the community were very concerned, so we made a public pledge to only report the facts around the case. We explained this to our readers with a Facebook post and answered all of their questions.

Our coverage on Libby’s disappearance has won praise from readers and industry colleagues, but most importantly from Libby’s family and friends.

One reader said: “I’ll be the first to admit that the coverage of Libby’s case has been exceptional. Sticking to the stone cold facts without spreading rumours or fear.”

Perhaps the most touching message came from one of Libby’s friends, who wrote: “Your reports are really something I have a lot of trust in and bring me so much comfort. If only every newspaper reported with the respect that you do.”

Woman thrown from ride at Hull Fair

Hull Fair is Europe’s largest travelling fair, attracting tens of thousands of people each night.

When a woman was thrown from a ride at the fair last year, we published a live blog within minutes (this did more than 200,000 page views).

In the days that followed, we secured exclusive interviews with the father of a boy who had been hit by the falling woman and then with the injured woman herself. This interview had more than 49,000 page views and engaged readers for an average of 1 minute and 40 seconds.

Speak Up campaign

A few days after Christmas 2018, two men jumped from the Humber Bridge within minutes of each other. The tragic news touched our readers and the response to a piece we published about it was immediate and overwhelming.

Our piece, headlined ‘Two lives lost in minutes: Why we need to take mental health seriously’, was shared more than 1,700 times on Facebook.

People began sharing their own stories about accessing mental health support, losing relatives to suicide and the mental health issues plaguing young men. We knew there was more we could do.

In January, we decided to launch a campaign to focus on men’s mental health because they are overwhelmingly more likely to take their own lives. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45. Across the UK, one man dies by suicide every two hours. And two-thirds of men who are struggling with mental health issues don’t seek help. Our campaign is called Speak Up for this reason.

We launched the campaign online in the most powerful way we could think of — by telling the stories of young men from Hull who have taken their own lives in recent years. 

It was a devastating and confronting piece, but we knew it would make people sit up and take notice. And it did. More than 40,000 people read it – for an average of 2 minutes and 4 seconds – and it was shared widely on social media.

Since then, our team have interviewed many families of men who have died by suicide, who have thanked us for highlighting this important issue.

Several other Reach PLC publications have followed our lead and launched their own campaigns around men’s mental health.

Judges’ Comments:

A strong entry with the site showing why it is proving such a success in covering the real stories in Hull.

Strong content, campaigning approach to topics – and good diversity of topics., The Irish News

Supporting statement:

In 2015 The Irish News launched a new website. It is a subscription website which offers five free articles a week (if an account has been created) before the paywall is hit.

In 2019 subscriptions jumped by 19.37% year on year. Page views were up 32.6 per cent, year on year. 

The three-strong digital team has worked extremely hard to optimise our content for online and also offer digital-only content. 

Our first url is from a two-part news special following the abduction and torture of Kevin Lunney, a little-known but successful businessman in Co Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. 

Members of the digital team conducted in-depth interviews with five of Mr Lunney’s colleagues at Quinn Industrial Holdings in Co Fermanagh. 

These exclusive interviews were accompanied by videos, background and analysis articles and an interview with a detective superintendent investigating the incident. They became front page news stories in the print newspaper.   

Mr Lunney was kidnapped and attacked on September 17 2019.

He was forced from his car by a group of four masked men, before being dumped across the border on the side of a road where he was discovered by a farmer.

Mr Lunney, a father of six, had his leg broken, the words QIH cut into his chest, his fingernails  cut down to the quick and was doused with bleach in a two-and-a-half hour ordeal.

Each interview – which was accompanied online with emotionally charged video clips  – highlighted the vicious attack that was carried out on Mr Lunney and also the shadow of intimidation that all these men had been living under since they led a an American private equity backed purchase of QIH. 

QIH, formerly Quinn Group, was the company once owned by Ireland’s richest man Sean Quinn. But he had lost control of it after a bad bet on shares in Anglo Irish Bank. 

His former lieutenants had wrestled back control of the company – with Mr Quinn’s blessing – with money from three American private equity companies. 

The interviews  – combined with never seen-before documents and recordings – exposed how a bitter commercial dispute between these men and Mr Quinn rapidly unfolded. 

The Irish News was given exclusive access to a dossier made by QIH detailing 70 incidents of harassment and intimidation that had been reported to the police by these men which we made into a powerful timeline article.

Accompanying the five interviews was an analysis of the roots to the commercial dispute.  Leaked documents and a secret recording given to The Irish News expose a disagreement that revolved around what Mr Quinn claimed was verbally promised to his family.

Just days after speaking out to The Irish News the men interviewed were issued with a renewed death threat which was read out to The Irish News in a forest in Co Cavan – by a gang believed to have been responsible for the abduction and torture of Mr Lunney.

The series of articles and videos on Quinn Industrial Holdings generated over 128,000 page views in 2019. 

The second URL is from our digital-only Random Act of Kindness series.

When even the cheeriest of souls feels that the news cycle is a relentless mix of death, destruction and despair you know it’s time to introduce some good news to readers’ timelines.

Last summer the Irish News’s digital editorial team launched a random act of kindness series and encouraged readers to get in touch with their stories and their thank yous.

It’s been a positive and successful initiative with the stories shared widely on social media among an international audience. It’s the perfect tonic to what can feel like troubled times.

Sometimes the stories sent to us by readers are downright hilarious. Other times they tug at the heartstrings. And always they serve as a reminder of the good that exists in humanity and how even a kind word can make all the difference in the world.

The most popular article is the first submitted example and it has had 27,000 page views and a reach of 406,000 on Facebook. It’s a corker of a story about the lengths one man went to in order to thank a thoroughly decent taxi driver.

The very first random act of kindness we shared took place in a café in west Belfast and is a beautiful example of compassion while the third submitted example involves a purse lost in Limerick and a parcel posted from England. 

The third URL is a story created by a member of the digital team who was really impressed by a walking tour he went on in his spare time of the Linen Quarter in Belfast.

In the 19th century the Linen Quarter was the headquarters of Ireland’s global linen industry but is more known now as being an area of Belfast city centre that is in need of regeneration.

The redevelopment of this area has been described as a key project for the city council. Covering a walking tour of the area was a good opportunity to highlight to readers the architecture within the Linen Quarter and the potential that investment in public spaces would create.

To do this, we decided to present the story in a completely new way, stepping outside the normal confines of the website design. 

We built a slide presentation to sit at the top of the article and presented each location on the tour in the style of an Instagram update, which we felt would engage the reader and encourage users to scroll to the bottom of the article. 

It also helped improve engagement on tablet and mobile devices as the design was optimised for display on smaller screens.

Finally, we included an interactive map which allowed the user to visit each location mentioned and see its location in the city centre.

In the days after the article went live, the average user spent 2 minutes and 20 seconds on the story compared to an average of 1 minute and 1 second across the whole website in 2019.

Judges’ Comments:

Very strong content produced by a newsroom at the top of their game.

Wide ranging mix of stories from multimedia, multifaceted backgrounders on intimidation and kidnapping to fun tale of kind taxi driver and on to long-read feature on a city’s rundown quarter., Manchester Evening News

Supporting statement:

We could talk about how big we are as the UK’s best-read regional website – but we actually want to tell you how small we have become.

In recent years we have positioned ourselves as a national of the north; national in scale, Northern in outlook and Manc in tone. 

We now cover national news but with a northern twist. Our Power up the North campaign – which looked at the north south divide – hit the mark well before the red wall crumbled.

But in growing so large it has been crucial to find better ways to use digital techniques to better serve Greater Manchester’s ten boroughs.

We’ve done this not only by expanding our hyperlocal reach, but by ensuring that the local interest is at the forefront of our agenda-setting journalism.

By creating journalism with a social conscience that stands out in the often-crowded digital space we believe we serve and represent our communities better than at any other time in the Manchester Evening News’ long and proud history.

Our ability to explore under-reported issues of national importance, through the experiences of people in our region, is exemplified by two of the stories we have included in our entry.

“Broken People in a Broken System”, was an investigation into the plight of homeless families, and  “The Lost Boys” looked at the impact of the pupil referral units on boys excluded from school. 

Both stories led to investigations and changes in the system. 

At the same time, we launched a hyperlocal project to make sure we are properly serving our local communities. 

We freed up reporters to spend more time on the ground. We have created hyperlocal Facebook pages which have become a source of stories and debate.

This has had a real impact. In one pilot area – Wythenshawe –  we saw a 33 per cent increase in page views to content. We have told stories we wouldn’t have otherwise told and built relationships that will last.

The project was so successful that we have expanded it and at the end of 2019 we advertised for four reporters to cover three more areas in depth.

Live news underpins our site. We are trusted because we don’t sensationalise and always verify. 

This means that as events are unfolding, such as the two 2019 terror attacks, we get surges of traffic to our home page as people anticipate we will provide the earliest and most accurate account of what has happened. 

The trust the readers have in us is treasured by the newsroom and building on it is very much part of our culture.

We revealed the serious failings of Greater Manchester Police’s new computer system leading to scores of whistleblowers contacting us and an HMIC investigation which proved us right despite denials from the top. There are many more examples we could cite.

We agonise over headlines, images, social sell and timings, knowing how critical they are to getting people to consume quality long reads.

Understanding how to get this journalism read in the digital world is one of our proudest achievements. Other long reads include: “Life on the overspill estate where the buses don’t go”, “Inside the Manchester boxing gyms teaching kids to deal with their problems”, “Life on the estate with a motorway running down the middle”, “People are openly injecting drugs in front of children near Manchester city centre’s new school – isn’t it time for drastic action?” Or light content such as “Secrets of the man who owns ten Manchester McDonalds”! 

We cover court through live blogs. The blog of the trial of those accused of killing schoolboys Yousef Makki was read by thousands of people over many weeks. 

We are known for our long read court backgrounders such as “The murder of Paul Massey: How ‘Mr Big’ lost control of Salford”, “The dark fascination with knives that ended the promising life of Manchester Grammar School pupil Yousef Makki” and “Tricked into slavery by Juicy the Pimp – the woman who brought down a trafficking boss.”

We innovate in how we tell stories, for example on the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre we live blogged it as it would have happened to bring to life the full horror.

During the general election we did a series of in-depth constituency profiles of Greater Manchester towns such as Heywood and Leigh that predicted the collapse of the so-called Red Wall.

We had more than 2m page views from our election coverage over two days and were one of the top sites in Google just behind the Daily Mail. We live blogged election night but also created hundreds of individual constituency pages to provide a bespoke results service to our communities. We produced a series of podcasts called North Poll which involved political journalists and experts from across the north.

We are at the point where issues we campaign on later become part of the national conversation – from the impact of cuts to the criminal justice system, to the need to spend more on transport and infrastructure in the north.

Over 2019 we started to cover new areas like tourism and moneysaving. These join parenting, TV,  food and drink and national news as part of what we have dubbed the ‘super team.’ They have brought in huge audiences and diversified the content we can produce to appeal to all tastes. 

We have more than 1m Twitter followers and 10m likes across our 18 Facebook pages and more than 400k on bespoke Facebook groups which serve interests such as court, breaking news, Coronation Street and the Christmas Markets. 

The numbers coming to our site are huge. More than 1.3m users a day. We have 68,000 people a day who open our app. We nurture these most engaged readers, providing them with the more local newsy content that they want to read.

So 2019 was the year when the Manchester Evening News learned how to be both big and small at the same time. National in scale, northern in outlook, and totally committed to our city.

Judges’ Comments:

Another strong year for the MEN site. Must-read content that captures the spirit of the city region.

Moving pieces on homelessness and boys excluded from schools, combined with comprehensive website., PlymouthLive

Supporting statement:

Community and creativity is at the heart of everything Plymouth Live does.

Since launching in May 2018, its success has been built on an ethos of putting the reader in charge – and of never being afraid to experiment.

A dedication to campaigning journalism and celebrating the patch led to rapid audience growth throughout 2019. Around half of all adults in the city now read Plymouth Live each week and more than 40% of the website’s stories are read by those who visit at least every other day.

That success has created a loyal and highly engaged local audience built on a foundation of traditional local journalism using new platforms – including app, social media, newsletters and podcasts.

Our hard-hitting campaigns around mental health and loneliness have changed lives for the better.

A long-running investigation we carried out into the rate and recording of suicides in the police force was discussed in Parliament and led directly to a change in procedure which could save lives (‘Top cops make police suicide pledge after Plymouth Live investigation’).

We were also the first regional media title to report on and expose the loan charge scandal, paving the way for the significant national coverage it has since received (‘Report slams HMRC tax demands that drove people to suicide’). Journalist Max Channon’s exclusive and campaigning work on the HMRC tax demands saga led the agenda on a level regional titles of our scale are rarely able to do.

In 2019 we also reported widely on issues surrounding Universal Credit and problems with leasehold homes. In both cases, Plymouth Live was among the first titles – regional or national – to lay bare the scale of the issues. We did so by putting real local people at the centre of each story, campaigning on their behalf for more coverage of failures in the system.

Giving our reporters the freedom to write about what they believe in is a fundamental value in our newsroom.

Crime reporter Carl Eve excelled during 2019 with a series of original and, at times, controversial columns around the big issues facing our city and the wider UK.

His first-person account of losing a friend to suicide (‘Suicide doesn’t end the pain, it just shares it around’) was among the most powerful features of our Reach Out campaign, which aimed to raise awareness and fight back at the stigma surrounding men’s mental health.

A separate column backing police officers who had been criticised for taking a tea break (‘The police drink tea and have breaks – get over it’) attracted international attention and praise from police officers all over the country.

Our readers guide us in all we do – and that is the reason Plymouth Live’s audience grew by around 50% during parts of 2019.

Real conversations at physical events in the city, as well as on social media and using data drawn from analytics, has allowed us to set a news agenda genuinely tailored to the desires of our most loyal readers.

That relationship is built on trust – as it has been for decades – and rebuilding that trust has been a major aim for Plymouth Live since its launch in what has at times been a difficult climate for the Press.

Two incidents tested that trust and our judgement more than ever in 2019.

One was the tragic death of a nine-year-old local boy, Frankie Macritchie, who was mauled to death at a holiday park.

While this incident made national headlines, we were resolute in remaining respectful to his family and friends. Our coverage was the most comprehensive in the UK without resorting to tasteless headlines, speculation or unnecessary detail. We are proud to be the only media title that refused to publish his photograph until the family approved its use. Every one of our rivals, including the BBC and national press, published a photograph of the dead child taken from his mother’s Facebook page without permission – and were later criticised for it by the police. We were proud to have remained respectful throughout and are the only media group to have developed a relationship with Frankie’s family, even assisting the campaign to raise funds for his funeral.

This dedication to our city and our readers is what drives us every day and is the backbone of sustainable local journalism.

A second challenging case was the release of notorious paedophile Vanessa George from prison. The case truly shocked Plymouth in 2009 and, although expected, her release touched a nerve with our readers. Being responsible and sensitive in the tone of our reporting was crucial and we made the decision to run photographs of her after her release just a single time, accompanying not an story based on outrage but a first-person piece from the only journalist who followed the case from the outset (‘Pictures of Vanessa George laughing and enjoying her freedom are an insult to her victims’). This is a policy we intend to stick to in 2020 and beyond.

Plymouth Live ended 2019 with comprehensive General Election coverage including two live debates broadcast via Facebook (but also hosted on the website) which were viewed by over 100,000 people and unrivalled on-the-night coverage including live blogs, analysis and video interviews.

Our Be A Friend campaign in the run-up to Christmas raised more than £2,000 for Age UK Plymouth and included us hosting a festive lunch for elderly and isolated residents. Our people-led features as part of the campaign achieved unprecedented page views and inspired many people to volunteer to help the elderly.

Plymouth Live is a website that truly stands up for Plymouth, champions all that is great about our area and puts the readers – our friends and neighbours – at the heart of it all. Often we do so in a light-hearted and fun way with content that engages and sings to the reader – elsewhere we do so with stories that really matter and can inspire truly change things for the better.

Judges’ Comments:

Campaigning content, sensitive reporting on difficult issues and good growth.

Excellent reporting within a fairly conventional website.

Rapid audience growth reflects the imaginative way the site seeks to reach out to its audience.