March in review

Posted by Dom

March was a busy month on the homepage. Breaking news events such as Hillary Clinton’s unexpected comeback in the US presidential elections, missing girl Shannon Matthews being found alive and well, the McCartney divorce settlement, the Budget and yet more bad weather dominated the homepage, as you can see from this selection of slides from the last four weeks:


The Shannon Matthew story broke during the course of a normal working Friday, and we had a homepage slide published within 11 minutes of the news, which generated over 550,000 clicks during that afternoon alone. Recent developments in the case have kept the story high on our news agenda as well.

What got you talking

Popular message board topics this month included a discussion on the £24.3m payout for Heather Mills and a debate over whether the British public should be allowed to vote on the controversial Treaty of Lisbon.

Over in entertainment-land, developments in EastEnders, Dancing on Ice and The Apprentice, meanwhile, also kept you hooked.

Feedback on your feedback…

A couple of issues raised by you during March need clarifying. On the night of England’s away friendly against France, a user complained: ‘MSN page is a load of anti-Scottish b*******, there is not a thing about Scotland’s draw with Croatia’.

I was working the out-of-hours rota shift myself that night, however, and can confirm that Scotland’s match and result featured prominently in the homepage Sports module. Although we inevitably have to give some football matches preference over others, we will never intentionally ignore any match featuring the Home nations.

The onset of the new Grand Prix season also led to complaints from MSN users: ‘Many thanks MSN – I, like millions of others WAS looking forward to the excitement of the F1 qualifying on TV this afternoon. Now you have published the results it won’t be quite the suspense I was hoping for. Could you not at least put sports results that haven’t yet been shown on TV on a page behind the front page without giving away the result as soon as we log on???’ and ‘Printing the results of the Grand Prix on the homepage before the afternoon showing on tv is out of order! Now i know the result (which I’ve avoided finding out) as spoilt the afternoon viewing of the 1st Grand Prix. I do hope you take this on board and think about putting the result up later not to annoy people who DIDNT want to know the result!’ were just two of the comments.

All our rivals did put up the result soon after it happened, however, and as a breaking news and sport site we are duty-bound to put the result of a Grand Prix up soon after it happens. Users’ comments have been taken on board, however, and we will look at alternative approaches to releasing the information; hopefully similar cases where the result is in the middle of the night UK time will not happen too many times over the course of the season.

We hold our hands up to…

A couple of unfortunate errors this month. As one user correctly pointed out: ‘It is a little incorrect to have a headline about a woman dying in a police chase crash and then a section about the worlds craziest police chases – please change it NOW!!!!!!!!’.

This unfortunate juxtaposition of stories happened on the last day of the month and was rectified quickly after it was spotted; we keep our eyes peeled for these kinds of clashes every day we program the homepage, but occasionally something slips through the net.

An inaccurate ‘Editor’s Pick’ headline drew this user’s ire: ‘Just like to point out some very clumsy (or deliberately scaremongering?) headline writing of yours. "House prices tumble to their lowest level for 12 years" Bloody Hell, I thought – have I just lost everything I’ve worked for for the past 20 years, without even noticing? How did this slump take place in a single day? Then I read the actual article. Ahhh, blessed relief! So, apparently, what is at its lowest for 12 years is the annual *growth* in house prices. House prices themselves, far from being at "their lowest level for 12 years", are still actually *higher* than a year ago. Phew!! Come on guys – that was a pretty shocking bit of rubbish, there’.

Again, this inaccurate headline was changed very quickly on the homepage after being spotted, but it shouldn’t have got through in the first place, so our apologies.

‘Your news article on the A380 gives Boeing as the manufacturer, it is of course Airbus’ says one user – this mistake was from an automatic news feed rather than one of our live editors, but again, our apologies.

And finally…

‘The Great Britain Track Cycling Team have won 9 Gold Medals at the World Track Championships ………………………….and typically with myopic reporting in the sport section, is there ANY mention of it????’ complained one user.

It’s true that we did perhaps underplay this stunning sporting success on the homepage. With our recent national failures in football, rugby and cricket (until a late revival), maybe we should be looking at other sports, and impressive British triumphs, rather more closely than we actually do.

See you next month for another round-up of the past four weeks’ events. Keep the feedback coming, as each and every comment is read by all who work on the homepage every day.

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