Reporters 'slept rough' to file flood copy

WMN: produced a special flood edition

Journalists from the Western Morning News were among the first on the scene to cover the devastating floods in the Cornish village of Boscastle.

Three reporters, Lucy Cockcroft, Andy Greenwood and Rebecca Short, and photographer Mark Pearson went straight to the village on Monday after news of the floods broke. Cockcroft and Greenwood slept rough in the community centre because, if they left the village, they would not have been let back in.

Overall, around 10 WMN journalists worked on the stories, but those on the scene were hard pushed to communicate with anyone from the newsroom as there was little mobile phone reception.

Editor Barrie Williams said: “Everyone has done an enormous job, we have masses of interviews, human interest stories and news. The fact that some of them slept there overnight shows real dedication.”

The paper produced 10 pages of coverage on the day of the floods. The following day it increased pagination and included a 12-page special on the floods. Print run was increased by 9,000, and retail sales manager Kelly Day said: “It is difficult to say yet, but I am confident that we will sell at least 5,000 over our average of 41,700.”

Short works from the paper’s Barnstable office. She said: “It was chaos. There were people running all over the place, it was horrific for them. I spoke to one girl who told me she had been in the car when it started floating away. She was petrified and started screaming: ‘I don’t want to die.'” Williams added: “It was an absolute miracle that nobody died and it was an extraordinary coincidence that it was 52 years to the day since the last major flooding disaster in Lynmouth in Devon. The only difference was that there were no helicopters back then and 34 people were killed.”

By Sarah Lagan

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