Portsmouth’s day in court yesterday, as the Premiership football club battled over a winding-up order over a £7.4 million tax bill, saw the city’s local newspaper’s website experience unprecedented traffic, as anxious fans followed proceedings at the High Court in London.
More than 8,000 Pompey fans logged on to The News‘s portsmouth.co.uk website to get the latest updates – nearly three times the site’s previous traffic record.
The site used blogging software CoverItLive to provide up-to-the-minute reports on the case. Reporters David Hurley and Gareth Bethell filed text updates from London, with photographer Malcolm Wells providing pictures from outside the court .
The News also put together a special late edition of the paper following the High Court decision.
Matthew Brown, The News‘s web editor, told holdthefrontpage.co.uk: “It was great to keep so many fans informed of what was going on in court. There are not many ways to follow a court case from work if you have neither a satellite TV or radio, so doing a live blog seemed to be the most sensible thing to do.
“We already provide live text commentary from matches so this was just a step on for us. This was by far the most popular live blog we have run.”
The use of digital media devices from court rooms may yet be subject to some form of legal review. In Baltimore, the court has banned the “use of any device to transmit information on Twitter, Facebook, Linked In or any other current or future form of social networking”.
The order is “predicated on the assumption that posting to Twitter is effectively the same as having television cameras broadcast court proceedings, which is already banned throughout the state”, according to the Baltimore Sun‘s Second Opinion blog. They point out that the order can be easily evaded â€” just step outside â€” but still find it “hard to see it as anything other than an attempt to shield the workings of the courthouse from public scrutiny”.