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How to cover rolling news events

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Content design, GOV.UK

From time to time, a news event can trigger a high volume of response from the government. It may involve information coming from a number of different departments, for example, or need frequent updates as a situation unfolds.

The challenge here is to help users cut through the volume of content, so they can easily find what they need to know.

So we wanted to share the thoughtful approach that the No10 digital team have taken to covering the recent tragic events in Woolwich on GOV.UK.

Woolwich incident GOVUK screenshot

As the story developed, the team decided to keep a single landing page updated with the latest news.

This short, jargon-free, page helps add context to - and provide a single user-friendly route into - more detailed information elsewhere.

For example, the page was updated to feature the 3 June speech in which the Prime Minister announced the first meeting of a new task force to tackle extremism.

It also linked to the Ministry of Defence news story about Drummer Lee Rigby, which paid tribute to his life and invited donations to Help for Heroes and the Fusiliers Aid Society. Fatality notices are also produced when a soldier is killed on active duty.

Finally, the page helped put the government response to this incident into a broader context - it links prominently though to the policy on counter-terrorism work, and to more information on COBR.

The Woolwich incident landing page was consistently featured on the No10 homepage, helping optimise it in search as a first place for a general audience to start.

Note that it’s also possible to formally ‘edition’ this landing page, so that it always displays the date of the last major update and users can see the change history.

Please talk to the Inside Government team if you’ve any questions or suggestions about this, or GOV.UK news coverage in general.

(This article was adapted from a post on the Inside Inside Government blog).

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  1. Comment by grahamfrancis posted on

    Thanks for this - and good point about the dangers of static links.

    Just to let you know though, the scope of GOV.UK is central government only - there are no plans to move police domains onto the site.

    Best wishes, Graham

  2. Comment by William D posted on

    Interesting post and it's a great concept but then the dangers of static links appear - the Met police's May 22nd's statement is now "Page Not Found" from this rolling news link page.

    I suppose begs the inevitable question - when will Organisations like the Met move over to modern and brilliant platform? I presume this would reduce the likelihood of such problems quite substantially.

    ("Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe’s statement on Woolwich incident" going to