Press Tracker is an experimental archive exploring British newspapers over 500 days of lockdown. 

The daily infection rate graph on this page uses live data from Public Health England, reaching back to the beginning of lockdown. For each day along the graph you can explore a selection of that day’s newspaper headlines.

Click anywhere on the infection rate graph to reveal headlines. You can also scroll up and down along the dates on the right-hand side.

Clicking on a headline will reveal its text and images, which you can drag across the screen.

You are currently on the mobile version of Press Tracker - scroll up and down along the dates on the right-hand side to view the day's headlines.

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i i i
sun sun sun
star star star
times times times
sun sun sun
mirror mirror mirror
express express express
star star star
observer observer observer
i i i
mail mail mail
guardian guardian guardian
express express express
sun sun sun
star star star
mirror mirror mirror
guardian guardian guardian
metro metro metro
mirror mirror mirror
star star star
express express express
sun sun sun
mail mail mail
express express express
sun sun sun
i i i
mirror mirror mirror
metro metro metro
express express express
mail mail mail
sun sun sun
i i i
mirror mirror mirror
guardian guardian guardian
times times times
sun sun sun
i i i
metro metro metro
times times times
star star star
metro metro metro
express express express
mirror mirror mirror
mail mail mail
times times times
metro metro metro
times times times
star star star
times times times
mail mail mail
times times times
metro metro metro
times times times
guardian guardian guardian
telegraph telegraph telegraph
mirror mirror mirror
star star star
i i i
express express express
mail mail mail
times times times

Click on the red or blue dates to visit the periods further back in time.

about

Since February 2020, I've been collecting newspapers lying unsold and unread. Reams of broadsheets and tabloids have been stacked outside newsagents and train stations to be collected as waste, while public libraries have confiscated and quarantined their deliveries until they're far too old for visitors to read.

This project explores the fate of newspapers over coronavirus. Newspapers strike us with a singular, day-in-the-life kind of quality, as though their headlines and images served to frank a unique and individual moment by screaming, "this is today! Read all about it!". I'm interested in how the form of the newspaper produces this sense of indexicality; stories must first be gathered and edited, then they are cropped and cut to be arranged on its pages, then they are printed, and then distributed through the night to meet us first thing in the morning. Hence the 24 hour news cycle twelve hours for 'today' to 'happen', another twelve for the news to be produced and disseminated.

The pandemic has contracted this cycle and subsequently lent daily newspapers a curiously historic quality. Although readership has been declining for decades (see link), the virus has accelerated this tendency with lockdown’s closure of public spaces. Dozens of papers have subsequently advertised on their own front pages discounted subscriptions to keep their circulation afloat, as though they had just launched for the very first time. What entices us about a newspaper - its arrangement of words on the page, its colours, its choice of headlines and images, its quality of 'this is today!' - feels out of sync with a situation saturated with constantly changing, digital news. Exploring this tension, Presstracker is a first-of-its-kind archive, drawing together real-time data with ‘hardcopy’ news.

Each of the newspapers in the archive have been scanned, uploaded, and then digitally split along their headlines, images, article content, and sheet. These papers have been kindly gifted from public libraries around London. You can view and interact with them along Public Health England's infection rate curve on the homepage.

how to use

The infection rate curve tracks corona infection rates, supplied by Public Health England. It is updated in real-time.

Click on a date of your choice along the graph. Newspaper headlines from that day will appear. Click on a headline to reveal its corresponding front page image, click again to reveal its surrounding articles. Click again to remove these layers, one by one. Click and drag on a headline, image, or front page article to move it around the page.

You can also scroll along the dates on the right hand side of the page to reveal each day’s headlines.

‘Dwell Time’ (coming soon) is a series of oral history interviews conducted with key people in the ‘infrastructure’ of newspapers, including public librarians. Libraries - some of which have become test and trace sites - have had to quarantine newspapers in case of contamination with the virus or even halt their re-stocking altogether.

‘Search Bar’ (coming soon)
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Contact

Press Tracker is a project by Eloise Hawser

The project has been made possible by an Arts Council England Emergency Coronavirus Grant. Many of the newspapers were generously donated by London libraries.

For more information please contact: [email protected]

With special thanks: Charlie Bond, Lila Bernstein Newman, Nicola Bullock, Ed Francis, and Chris Martin. Kensington Reference Library, Peckham libraries, Southwark Libraries, Portland Place library, and The FT Archives.

The coding and digital development of this site has been done by Ed Francis and Chris Martin from belu.ga

Press Tracker uses Kirby, a German content management system, for its functioning. For more information, see twitter.com/getkirby.