The Express & Echo in Exeter launched its new TV studio on the day a factory blaze drew over a hundred firefighters to the paper’s offices.
A fire broke out at 2.30am on Monday morning in an aircraft factory based on the same industrial estate as the Echo, which risked setting fire to two acid baths and creating a chemical explosion. The fire was too late for all the Echo’s usual copy deadlines, but the journalists on the paper managed to produce a 3,000-print run late edition, with five pages of fire coverage, and post 30 pictures and a video report on the website by 10am.
Editor Mark Astley said: ‘After launching the studio we had intended to just have a reporter reading out the day’s headlines at midday, but then this fire and potential chemical explosion broke out on our doorstep and we ended up using it to break the story. ‘There were a hundred firefighters there overnight and 15 fire crews. By 10am this morning we had sent a five-page special edition off to the press which we would have done normally, but we also have 30-odd pictures on the website with a story and a four-minute video report. ‘It really demonstrates how we are moving towards a multimedia operation. We’ve got two editing suites, the newsreaders’ booth where the newsreaders are set against an Echo backdrop and we then have a permanent camera set up in there.’The Echo TV studio has been set up in the former assistant editor’s office, which has remained unoccupied since he was promoted to deputy editor.
The Echo has also set up a dedicated website at www.thisisexeter.co.uk/branscombe to keep people in touch with the beached cargo ship on Branscombe beach that attracted thousands of people searching for goods that had been washed up.