Home > JOUR523, Journalism, Soccer/ Football > Hillsborough: Liverpool Echo’s microsite on the stadium crush that killed 96

Hillsborough: Liverpool Echo’s microsite on the stadium crush that killed 96

A good online sports package similar to PBS’ coverage on the business of the NCAA Tournament is the Liverpool Echo’s microsite on Hillsborough, the 1989 stadium crush that resulted in 96 deaths and 766 injuries at a soccer match in Sheffield, England.

Although the Hillsborough stadium disaster occurred nearly 23 years ago, the story is still a continuing one. In this way, the Echo’s microsite serves as both a memorial to the victims and an information center with updating news.

On the site, the Echo takes advantage of free third-party applications, such as Dipity, to create interactive timelines that trace the events of the day as the unfolded, which tells the story on a multimedia platform, and how the “fight for justice” has continued for over 20 years. The timelines feature stock photos as well as embedded YouTube clips from live BBC coverage of the event.

The site also features the full transcript of the House of Commons’ Oct. 18, 2011, debate about the release of all government documents, including Cabinet minutes, relating to Hillsborough, many of which were inaccessible to the public.

While the print side may have just summarized the debate, pulling out the most pertinent quotes due to space constrictions, the microsite publishes the full transcript, which also includes a link to the streaming video from Parliament TV and embedded audio of the speech given by Steve Rotherham, the Member of Parliament from Walton, Liverpool.

Finally, the microsite is broken down into sections (see screenshot). On the upper left, under a header reading, “Hillsborough remembered,” is a slideshow. On the right, broken up into four mini sections, are the debate, a feature on all 96 victims, a survivor’s story, and the timeline of how the event unfolded.

Liverpool Echo's Hillsborough microsite

A screenshot of the Liverpool Echo's microsite about the Hillsborough disaster, which occurred on April 15, 1989, in Sheffield, England.

Underneath the top section is “Hillsborough Headlines,” which lists the latest news stories about Hillsborough. To the right, is the tribute to each of the 96 victims compiled by Echo reporters who spoke to family and friends of the victims.

Finally, at the bottom of the microsite is a collection of videos, slideshows, and podcasts about Hillsborough.

What is Hillsborough?

On April 15, 1989, an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool FC and Nottingham Forest FC was played at Hillsborough, the ground of Sheffield Wednesday FC. Because the match was played on a neutral ground, supporters of each club were delegated to each end of the pitch. Nottingham Forest fans were assigned to the Spion Kop end of Hillsborough, with a capacity of 21,000, and Liverpool fans were assigned to the Leppings Lane end, which had a capacity of 14,600.

The match was called off in the 6th minute as fans in the Leppings Lane end were pulled to sections above the standing-room only pens. Fans being crushed against the fencing – constructed during the height of hooliganism in English soccer – climbed up and over, while a small gate in the fencing was opened for others.

A multitude of factors contributed to the 96 (94 on the day) deaths and 766 injuries at the Leppings Lane end, including iron fencing separating supporters from the pitch, overcrowding of the confined central pens, and, as the Taylor Report concluded, “the main reason for the disaster was the failure of police control.” All of the victims – ranging from 10 to 67 years old – were Liverpool fans. According to the BBC, only 14 of the 96 victims ever made it to a hospital.

This BBC article nicely sums up the events.

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