The Eastern Daily Press changed its front page on Saturday 28 March after its local force rang the paper expressing concerns amid the coronavirus outbreak.
David Powles, Editor of the Eastern Daily Press said that he took a call from Norfolk Police on Friday night expressing serious concerns that a combination of boredom and expected nice weather would see residents ignore government guidelines to stay at home. The front page of the paper was changed to reflect those concerns, he said.
The Saturday edition of the EDP led with a plea by Simon Bailey, Chief Constable of Norfolk police to ‘Stay inside – or lives will be lost’.
Speaking to the paper, Bailey said that when the prime minister made his announcement he did it for two very good reasons, to save lives and to protect the NHS.
He added: “These are probably the most draconian measures this country has ever seen, but they are being done for all the right reasons.
“We all have a responsibility to respect that scientific advice and the prime minister’s very difficult decision and to self isolate, and to only go out for the examples which have been very clearly set out.
“If we do not do that we are putting people’s lives at risk. We will simply extend the duration of this crisis and the NHS will become overwhelmed.
“Even though it is the weekend, people have to stay in. We will be out this weekend at potential hotspots and we will engage with people, educating them and informing people of what they should or should not be doing, so we do not have to enforce the legislation.”
BBC suspends local bulletins
The BBC has suspended regional TV news bulletins during its BBC One Breakfast show as a temporary measure during the Covid-19 crisis.
The broadcaster will continue to provide weekday regional TV news bulletins at lunchtime, 6.30pm and 10.30pm.
Local news will still be available on BBC radio in the mornings and on the BBC News website.
The BBC is running a “core news service” during the pandemic, with programmes, such as Politics Live and the Victoria Derbyshire Show, having been taken off the air.
Archant calls for donations
Regional publisher Archant is launching a new initiative which will allow readers to donate to help fund its journalism.
Donors will be able to give one-off or recurring contributions of any amount they like under the on-line scheme.
Archant already uses donations to help fund its pro-European Union weekly The New European (TNE).
In a message to Archant staff, chief content officer Matt Kelly wrote: “this is something we need to do to stay in the game if and when our print titles cease to be profitable.
“I believe this works well on The Guardian and TNE because readers of those titles care passionately about their existence and are actually delighted to have the opportunity to help keep them going. They don’t find it onerous. They are glad to contribute.
“What we do is important, and it is imperilled. The coronavirus pandemic has made this situation exceptionally acute, but we all know this is a long-term issue that must be solved if local journalism is to thrive.”
Singing the Pompey Chimes
Portsmouth fans sang out a popular football chant in a show of solidarity after a call by local daily The News.
The paper called on people to sing Portsmouth FC anthem the ‘Pompey Chimes’ at 3pm on Saturday, the traditional kick-off time for football matches in England.
The News devoted its front page to the call this Friday after from Portsmouth player Haji Mnoga, one of five players self-isolating after testing poostive for coronavirus, touted the idea on social media.
Mark Waldron, editor of The News, told HTFP: “The Pompey Chimes have been a symbol of unity for our city for decades and we need to hear them now more than ever.
“We’ve rightly clapped our NHS heroes and now we want to make some noise for the amazing people of Portsmouth to show that in these uncertain and unsettling times we stand strong together.”
County Down Spectator suspends printing
The County Down Spectator is no longer appearing in print for the first time in 116 years as a temporary measure.
In a front-page editorial, the newspaper called the coronavirus crisis: “The most serious situation to have faced the community of north Down in the lifetime of the Spectator.”
“The value of local papers is as relevant today as it was in 1904, if not more so,” it added.
“Rest assured we will not be disappearing. We will be back.”
Newspaper groups praised for home deliveries
Education secretary Gavin Williamson has highlighted the importance of newspaper home delivery during the outbreak.
He said: “It is really important that people are able to access local news to gain an understanding of what is going on in their area.
“Local newspapers are absolutely vital when it comes to reporting on some of the key messages that we all need to take on board so we can tackle this virus.
“I hope some clarity and guidance can be issued to make sure it is understood that newspaper deliveries can – and should – still take place.
“In order to stop the spread of this virus, what we all want to see is less people leaving the house and having to go to the shops. Home deliveries are an important part of this battle to keep people self-isolating.”
Support for journalists
Speaking on BBC NI’s Good Morning Ulster, First Minister Arlene Foster said: “Journalism and television is so important at this point in time to give us the voice to be able to talk to people directly.”
Sky News ‘obligation’ to document Covid-19
Sky News has a “serious and deeply-felt obligation” to document how the coronavirus crisis is affecting the people of the United Kingdom and the rest of the world, its Head has said.
Writing in a blog post on the broadcaster’s website, John Ryley, Head of Sky News, provided an update on how the broadcaster is operating amid the crisis. Alongside outlining the coverage that viewers could expect to see, he said that Sky’s journalists recognised the vital role they had to play in keeping the public informed and the need to hold decision-makers to account.
He said: “We recognise the vital role we have to play during this crisis, ensuring you are able to read, watch and listen to accurate non-stop journalism and clear analysis across all our digital, television and audio platforms.”
Scottish journalists recognised as ‘key workers’
The Scottish government has confirmed that it has classed all journalists who are reporting on the coronavirus pandemic as ‘key workers’.
The confirmation comes after the Scottish Newspaper Society last week sought urgent clarification that journalists in Scotland will be considered en par with their colleagues in England.
The Scottish Newspaper Society has reported that, in a letter to director John McLellan, the Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Fair Work and Culture, Fiona Hyslop, said that news publishing had a “vital role” to play amid the crisis and that journalists and print staff in Scotland could expect to go about their work without interference from police or public authorities.
She said: “Ms Hyslop said: “These are indeed very difficult and uncertain times… in these challenging circumstances, having access to reliable information is a key part of a functioning society and public confidence. I agree that the news publishing sector plays a vital role in this. Your support and responsiveness to the situation are deeply appreciated.
“I would like to assure you that we fully expect all public authorities to allow journalists and key print media staff to have the freedom of movement they require to do their important work. I have asked my officials to ensure that this is communicated to Police Scotland and the Chief Constable has highlighted that they will take a proportionate response.”