The riots that have convulsed the streets of London and other U.K. cities were a peril for some journalists who fell victim to the violence they were documenting. In other respects, though, the unrest in England has been a boon to local media.
The Guardian reports that the websites of papers like the Manchester Evening News, the Birmingham Mail and Wolverhampton's Express and Star all saw surges in online traffic on Tuesday and Wednesday, while the Nottingham Post and Bristol Evening Post have extended their print runs by thousands.
As for the Guardian's own digital stats, a spokeswoman pointed The Cutline to data from Omniture revealing that more than 5.6 million users visited guardian.co.uk on Tuesday, breaking the site's previous record of 4.56 million (when Osama bin Laden was killed in May) by more than 1 million. The Guardian also reported new highs for mobile traffic on Tuesday, when 803,000 users accessed the Guardian's mobile platform, up from a previous record of 580,409. Early figures show that 5.5 million unique users viewed riot-related content on the paper's website through mid Thursday.
In addition, nontraditional media outlets are benefiting from intensive local interest in the riots. A hyperlocal website called The West Londoner created by a graduate journalism student reportedly logged a million pageviews in 24 hours thanks to a riot live-blog it published.
"Rapid and relevant updates are what seems to be driving the traffic," the author told the website journalism.co.uk. "At the end of Tuesday night/Wednesday morning the traffic was dropping off as there simply wasn't anything new to report on. We also had the huge advantage of being the first liveblog to have up-to-the-minute reports."
On the broadcast side, Sangat TV, "a four-man operation in a makeshift newsroom" geared toward the local Sikh community has been giving juggernauts like Sky News and ITN a run for their money, according to The Guardian.
"At times erratic and unpredictable, Sangat TV is still captivating," writes The Guardian's Josh Halliday. "Its most jaw-dropping moment was on Tuesday night, while it filmed from a car a police pursuit of young rioters down a Birmingham backstreet. With police lagging far behind, Sangat presenter Upinder Randhawa shouted to the officers: 'Do you need a lift? We'll give you a lift. Get in the car.' "