Press Tracker is an experimental archive exploring British newspapers over 500 days of lockdown.
Click along the infection rate curve to reveal headlines, day by day. You can scroll along the curve or select dates on the right-hand side.
Clicking on a headline will reveal its text and images, which you can drag across the screen.
You can scroll along the curve or select dates on the right-hand side. Clicking on a headline will reveal its text and images, which you can drag across the screen.
how to use
The graph tracks corona infection rates supplied by Public Health England. 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 use the date range selector to which dates are visible on the page. Use the search bar in the top left corner to explore recurrent motifs across the pandemic.
The reset button will reset your interactions, searches, and date selections.
‘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.
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 any visitors read.
This project explores the fate of newspapers over the course of the pandemic. 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. With daily printing outstripped by an endlessly mutating and on-going situation, consumption has dwindled with the closure of public spaces. Dozens of papers have been advertising 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!' - has flipped into something that feels distant and removed from an unlimited, viral, and mutating situation.
The papers featured in this artwork 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.
Press Tracker is a project by Eloise Hawser
Each of the newspapers in the archive have been scanned uploaded, and then digitally split along their headlines, images, article content, and sheet.
The project has been generously supported by Natural Environment (Malena Bach and Isabelle Nowak) and made possible by an Arts Council England Emergency Coronavirus Grant. Many of the newspapers were generously donated by London libraries.
With special thanks: Malena Bach, Charlie Bond, Lila Bernstein Newman, Nicola Bullock, Ed Francis, Thomas Guenther, Chris Martin and Isabelle Nowak. Kensington Reference Library, Peckham libraries, Southwark Libraries, Portland Place library, and The FT Archives.