Christchurch Mosque Shooting Coverage
Media associated with this campaign
Overview of this campaign
Christchurch, New Zealand, was still recovering from the deaths and widespread destruction of a 2011 earthquake when another horror struck.
At 1.40pm on Friday March 15, 2019, a gunman burst into two Christchurch mosques and opened fire. He killed 51 people and seriously injured another 40.
As the city’s only daily newspaper, The Press’s role was to not only inform; we were the first to identify all 50 victims (a 51st died later in hospital) online on March 17 and in print the following day. It was also to share in our community’s grief and respond with compassion.
We focused on the victims and the community response, not the gunman or his ethos of hate.
Those who died had connections across our readership (explored in this online feature); they were loved family members, neighbours and colleagues, owners of local shops and restaurants, schoolmates and fellow sportsmen.
Our online coverage included a rolling blog which ran for 15 days offering news and information, powerful personal stories and political reaction.
Within hours of the terror attack, our print editions were torn up and rebuilt. We dumped planned content, stripped ads and added extra paging. This format continued for more than a week.
Special attention was given to the design of our front pages, reflecting the evolving mood of our city from the initial horror, as shown by the bloodsoaked clothes of survivors of our shown on our March 16 edition. One week on, as the nation prepared to share in the traditional Muslim Call to Prayer, our front page, carried the message of peace in Arabic and English, reflecting the Muslim community’s response. It was bordered in green (a colour favoured by Islam), and listed the names of all those who had died.
Two weeks on, on the day of the national memorial service, NZ illustrator Ruby Jones was asked to design our front page on the theme “we are one”.
Results for this campaign
The first day after the shooting The Press saw a 23 per cent lift in newspaper sales, virtually selling out across all outlets and sales remained high for the following two weeks.
Our Salam edition, published on the one week anniversary, attracted enormous international attention, unusual for a regional print newspaper at the bottom of the world.
The front page was shared by tens of thousands of people on social media and requests for a hard copy poured in from around the world. Other media reported on this front page design, including The HuffPost and Times Now.
Commercially, The Press and its sister titles in the Stuff Ltd stable took a hit. Clearing advertisements and adding paging to each edition was costly but done as an essential service to readers in a time of crisis. Stuff and The Press also permanently stopped all advertising from Gun City, previously a regular client.