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May 4, 2020updated 07 Nov 2023 5:42am

Coronavirus Journalism Excellence: Top examples of breaking news and live blogs

By Charlotte Tobitt

Updates on the spread of the coronavirus have come thick and fast from around the globe in the past three months, and it falls to journalists to make sense of what’s going on in an accurate and timely way.

The third in our series of articles based on our Journalism Matters: Excellence in Reporting Coronavirus project highlights those who have produced outstanding breaking news and live blog coverage.

Press Gazette launched the Journalism Matters project to showcase some of the crucial work being done by journalists during one of the most challenging times ever for our industry, and received a huge 600 nominations across eight categories.

The survey asked for nominations from all sections of the media, not just in the UK, but around the world, across eight categories:

If you would like to nominate a story that we have missed, or which has been published after the cut-off date for round one of this project on 16 April, please click here to do so (we plan to do a second round of judging).

Work was judged on originality, journalistic skill and rigour, innovation and serving the public interest. View the full list of judges here.

Please feel free to share this work on social media using the hashtag #journalismmatters.

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Coronavirus Journalism Excellence: Breaking news/live blog

News agencies

Sports Direct and Evans Cycles to stay open as bosses say staff are key workers, PA, 23 March

Within 30 minutes of Boris Johnson announcing the UK shutdown, PA revealed Sports Direct’s plan to keep its shops open, claiming they were “essential”. The retailer’s decision was reversed within half a day of PA’s story being published.

City Editor Simon Neville followed this story up by exposing how Sports Direct ramped up its prices as the shutdown came in. Chief executive Mike Ashley was subsequently forced to apologise for his behaviour.

Boris Johnson admitted to hospital, PA Media, 5 April

Harriet Line and the video desk

Deputy political editor Harriet Line broke the news of the Prime Minister’s admission to hospital as his coronavirus symptoms worsened, prompting a quick change to many of the next day’s front pages. PA’s video team followed up with a series of reaction videos.

National press

Coronavirus latest, Financial Times, daily

Adam Samson and the FT Liveblog team

The FT is running a global 24-hour daily blog featuring a judicious selection of material – enough to avoid swamping readers but including everything from the impact of low oil prices to Trump’s latest press conference, the search for a vaccine and the battle for PPE supplies.

Coronavirus UK live, The Guardian, daily

The Guardian is running at least two daily coronavirus live blogs – including one with a UK focus and one with global updates – bringing together all the need-to-know developments and impacts in bite-sized chunks for different audiences.

Coronavirus news – live, The Independent, daily

Independent news team

The Independent is running two live blogs each day, with the main one taking in the major developments in the UK and the rest of the world, and a second one focusing on the situation in America. They are read all over the world, but most of the audience is in the UK, then the US, Canada, Ireland and Australia.

Both live blogs run from first thing in the morning until late at night and together they attracted 50m page views between 1 March and 14 April, almost 20 per cent of all of The Independent’s coronavirus traffic.

Coronavirus live, The National (UAE), daily

The National homepage team

The National is running a live 24-hour daily blog on all the latest events affecting the UAE, Middle East and the rest of the world.

Coronavirus live blog and Youtube channel, The Sun, daily

Sun digital news team and video team

The Sun has been running daily live blogs throughout the crisis, updated to take in all new events and opinions tailored to its readers. In 30 days these rolling updates reached 18.6m page views and 8m users.

Meanwhile its Youtube channel – treated by the title as a live video and breaking news service – saw 28m unique viewers during four weeks of the crisis alone, consuming more than 2.3m hours of content. The channel live streams every No 10 press briefing and White House briefing to tens of thousands of people each evening, while raw streams showing the outside of St Thomas’ Hospital after Boris Johnson’s admission and aerial views of a quiet London have also proved popular.

Coronavirus live blog, The Telegraph, daily

Global Health Security team including Lizzie Roberts, Verity Bowman, Sarah Newey, Jordan Kelly-Linden, Tony Diver, Mason Boycott-Owen, Yolanthe Fawehinmi

The Telegraph’s coronavirus live blog runs daily, with a member of the London team posting breaking news, informed analysis, audio and visual content and more from 6.30am until around 11pm.

The Global Health Security team quickly adapted to the breaking news cycle and seek to provide a welcoming, friendly and reassuring tone for readers alongside dispatches and insights from the Telegraph’s foreign correspondents and political reporters.


Coronavirus live blog, BBC News Online, daily

More than a dozen BBC journalists, from Australia to Washington, are helping to co-ordinate the website’s live coronavirus updates blog every day.

Regional press

Woodley primary school staff member tests positive for coronavirus, The Wokingham Paper, 29 February

Phil Creighton

The Wokingham Paper’s website broke the news at 9.30pm on Saturday 29 February that Wokingham borough had one of the first cases of coronavirus in the UK – a school worker who picked it up while on holiday in Italy.

The story was read by more than 30,000 unique users the next day and was followed up by daily updates online as it emerged the infected worker had attended a course with other schools before they were diagnosed.

A decision then had to be made on how to report the story in the paper, which the editorial team considered was likely to be seen by pupils at the affected schools: the eventual “The cause of a week’s uncertainty” was the result.

The Wokingham Paper: ‘The cause of a week’s uncertainty’ coronavirus front page

Specialist media

3D printing community responds to Covid-19 and coronavirus resources, 3D Printing Industry, updated daily

Michael Petch

3D Printing Industry has been running daily updates of 3D printing’s application to Covid-19, and warnings for the community about what not to do.

Exclusive: Critical care unit overwhelmed by coronavirus patients, Health Service Journal, 20 March

Lawrence Dunhill 

There had been countless warnings about the NHS’ ability to deal with an impending onslaught from coronavirus. But this breaking story about an NHS hospital declaring a “critical incident” was the first to reveal the pressures being felt on the frontline.

The story was followed up by dozens of national media outlets while on Twitter, journalist Lawrence Dunhill’s breaking story was retweeted more than 7,000 times.

The story, which was made free to view on the HSJ website, had around 140,000 page views, which is around ten times higher than any previous story ever run by HSJ.

The story raised major fears that intensive care departments would be completely overwhelmed by Covid-19, and prompted more urgent action to be taken.

This is just one of many stories broken by HSJ about the NHS’ response to the pandemic which have altogether led to its weekly users increasing by about five-fold to between 210,000 and 300,000 since mid-March.

Budget 2020 what it means for small business – analysis and live blog,, 11 March

Tim Adler live blogged the Budget for the first time this year and updated the page throughout the day with commentary and expert reaction including on the Government’s emergency coronavirus business support.

The live blog ranked top of Google in searches for “small business Budget” and to date has had 58,234 page views and been linked to by 30 external websites.

Covid-19 Hub Part 1: Drinks trade reaction to crisis & UK lockdown, The Buyer, updated daily

Richard Siddle

B2B title The Buyer, which is focused on the premium on-trade and the drinks supply chain that supports it, launched a rolling hub for updates to keep the industry up-to-date on 16 March.

The result is 2,000 to 3,000 words daily aimed at informing and inspiring restaurants, bars and all their suppliers and wine and drinks producers on Government support available and what others in the industry are doing. The hub has been the website’s biggest traffic driver every day since its launch.

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