We have always said the reader is at the heart of everything we do. But, following a newsroom transformation and different approach to our journalism, this now carries new meaning.
How can we help our readers? How can we solve their problems? How can we make a difference? These are all questions we ask ourselves every day, with analytics from our sister title the Press and Journal’s website being used to study how its digital audience is engaging with all of our content. This isn’t about page views but the amount of time spent on each article, which helps our Evening Express print team understand which stories would be best for the newspaper.
Queen Elizabeth II’s death was the biggest story many journalists will work on in their lifetime but with her dying at Balmoral it brought a major challenge for our team - how to cover this major story but make it different from others yet still relevant for our readers. Our journalists delivered the goods with exclusive, local content across the patch and a 104-page magazine special which was 20 years in the making. But we also went all out to ensure the Evening Express readers knew the route Her Majesty would take as she left Balmoral and travelled through Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen before arriving in Edinburgh. This information was not going to be released until 5pm on the Saturday, however, a combination of boots on the ground and strong contacts ensured what was initially a line of traffic cones in part of Aberdeen became an exclusive of the route through our patch.
Our columnists talk about issues affecting our communities. Rebecca Buchan’s piece following the horrific murder of Aberdeen mum Jill Barclay highlighting the fact that if she had been killed anywhere but the north-east of Scotland the whole of the UK would have been talking about it drew praise from readers. Rebecca’s regular take on Aberdeen city centre and its desperate need for regeneration has led to her hosting an unprecedented summit to discuss the future of Aberdeen’s main thoroughfare – Union Street – on November 9.
We are proud to support Aberdeen FC through the good and the not so good. When manager Jim Goodwin was given what the club and supporters deemed an excessive eight-game touchline ban for calling someone a cheat, the Evening Express encouraged supporters to show their support by wearing a special Goodwin mask featured in the newspaper to the club’s next game. A fan wearing one of our masks was the main image on the BBC’s online live coverage of the game and our approach drew praise from fans on social media.
Providing an outlet for children and families through the Covid pandemic resulted in a number of initiatives encouraging people to get creative and turned into a lasting legacy for the region. We asked schools across the patch to take part in our Time Capsule Project by sharing their memories of lockdown. A massive number of pictures and memory sticks containing videos from pupils were submitted and, once placed securely in our especially-made capsule making use of old oil industry kit, they were buried this year at a new outdoor auditorium being built at Inverurie Academy.
Events are an important way for the Evening Express to shine a light on achievers across the region and this year saw the return of the Aberdeen’s Sports Awards, which highlights those in grassroots sports to world and Olympic championships. Despite the restrictions of the pandemic, we were able to hold our annual Christmas Concert. A fixture on Aberdeen’s festive calendar for more than 50 years, hundreds of children took the stage at P&J Live, the north-east's largest concert venue, to provide much-needed cheer and joy. We are known for championing our local businesses and next week (Nov 10) the Evening Express’ Society awards will be a celebration of the dedicated and talented businesses on our doorstep. As well as recognising the best restaurant and coffee shop, our range of prizes include an eco award and most adaptable business.
At a time when news publications are cutting back, the Evening Express is investing in journalism and doubling down on those who matter the most – our readers. Local people are at the centre of everything we do and our teams are passionate about informing, entertaining and helping our audiences, our businesses, our communities.