Wales Online

Our Covid Cymru special report is unlike anything else that featured on WalesOnline, or any other regional news website, during the pandemic. It tells the stories of families who lost loved ones and their fight for an independent inquiry into the Welsh Government’s handling of it.

We wanted to bridge the gap between product and journalism so that the presentation of the project and the actual words went hand in hand rather than being treated as two seperate things. As the interviews were done and the narrative came together, the design was developed side-by-side. It was built on a platform separate from WalesOnline and coded from scratch from within our newsroom (it is not made using the popular Shorthand platform). It was written in HTML and CSS code, with all the animations written in Javascript and some design done in Photoshop. It’s an immersive, responsive design befitting the journalism within it, which was in itself a major undertaking and a crucial part of the story of the Covid pandemic in Wales. It continues to shape the debate in Welsh politics on how the review into how the pandemic was handled by governments should look. We spoke to eight families who described the pain of losing loved ones and who insisted that there must be a specific inquiry in Wales, something the Welsh Government is strongly resisting. It was built on previous investigative journalism done by WalesOnline to expose the numbers of unnecessary deaths caused by political failings in Wales. But this piece was the one that cut through — people don’t respond to numbers, they respond to people. It is hard to overstate the impact this article had in Wales, where it is still raised in the Senedd. It is difficult to get people who are grieving to trust journalists and open up. But this piece is the result of achieving that and dealing with them with compassion and warmth. The stories contained within it are harrowing, yet sadly familiar to so many people. Among them is Louise Hough, whose husband killed himself because of the situation in the care home they owned together. In her own words: “The public do not know the appalling stuff that happened in care homes. There was one incident here with one of the ladies. She was sick with Covid at the time. Imagine a fish pulled out of water. That is how they were gasping for air. [My husband] went in there and she was saying ‘Vernon help me’. I pulled him out of the room because I could see that was having a devastating effect on him. Twenty-four hours later this lady was dead. Within 36 hours many of them were dead. I said we would go on holiday at the end of June and get away from all this and the next day he went to feed his patients. He came back, got his shotgun and shot himself.” You can read it here: