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As civil unrest engulfed the streets of English cities from Birmingham to Manchester, news-hungry readers flocked to the websites of local newspapers which have experienced record levels of online traffic since the riots broke out. The Manchester Evening News, one of Britain’s largest regional titles, provided round-the-clock coverage as rioting in the city went on late into the night on Tuesday.
The paper’s live blog recorded a record 25,000 readers on Tuesday, with 20,000 following the unrest into the evening, according to figures released by the Newspaper Society. Readers flocked back to the MEN website on Wednesday morning, with the lead story reaching 100,000 views by mid-afternoon.
The Birmingham Mail, whose city became the focus of national attention on Wednesday after three men were hit by a car and killed during the previous night’s riots said its online coverage set a new traffic record with 100,000 unique users following the paper’s live blog on Tuesday. The Trinity Mirror title said page views were up more than 300% on usual levels.
Wolverhampton’s Express and Star also found itself in the thick of the action on Tuesday as looting broke out on Queen Street, where the newspaper is based. The Midlands News Association title made good use of its prime location, with photographers snapping the action from the office ready for the paper’s first edition.
The riots were covered across 19 pages in Wednesday’s Express and Star, while the website peaked at 853,000 homepage views.
In the east midlands the Nottingham Post extended its print run by about 10,000 copies on Wednesday to cope with demand for news about the previous night’s unrest. On Tuesday, the paper’s website recorded 120,000 unique users.
The Bristol Evening Post also boosted its print run by 6,000 copies on Tuesday as residents awoke to boarded-up shops in the looted city centre. The Northcliffe flagship title recorded a record 90,000 unique users on Tuesday, with 150,000 page views on its coverage of the riots.
In London, the Southwark News on Thursday offered a free ad to each business affected by widespread looting and destruction in the borough. The paper extended its print run by 1,000 copies as it urged families and shopkeepers to support the afflicted south London businesses.
This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.