Edinburgh Evening News 2020 review - a look back at our most popular stories this year
It’s been a year like no other for Edinburgh and the Lothians.
In 2020 we saw dramatic shifts in how we live our lives. Businesses have been forced to close, schools shut, workers sent home and the most vulnerable forced to shield themselves from the rest of the population.
Our journalists, editors and production staff have been busier than ever, ensuring newspapers can be put out and the latest news covered online from kitchens, living rooms, studies and bedrooms across the nation.
Here we take a look back at some of the biggest stories of the year on edinburghnews.com.
Don’t forget, if you’d like to gain unlimited access to every story on our website and support quality local journalism, you can try a digital subscription with us from just £1 a month.
We start with, of course, coronavirus, or rather the very first tests for the virus in Edinburgh.
On January 23 we reported three people in Edinburgh were being tested for what we dubbed the “Chinese coronavirus,” not yet realising how much of a global virus it would become. At the time Nicola Sturgeon told Scots, “I should say, that the risk to the public here in Scotland - and indeed the UK - is currently classified as low but that is kept under review.”
Another of the most read stories in January was our story on the Leith pub which launched a fierce sartorial crackdown on punters. Forget ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service’, Dreadnought in Leith put in place a flat ban on ‘jobby catchers’ and ‘mankles’. Many of you strongly approved.
In February we covered not one but TWO ‘flights from hell’. We’ve all experienced a nightmare trip, although they’re far more enjoyable to read about than go through.
First up we told how four passengers collapsed on Edinburgh-bound Ryanair 'flight from hell'. Everyone was okay in the end but there were serious questions asked of the budget airline as to what led to the incident. Next in our sights was TUI. The travel operator was forced to apologise to flyers and reportedly offer all passengers 400 euros compensation when a flight from Lanzarote to Edinburgh stopped in London and passengers were told they must a bus 450-miles home.
By the middle of March, all health boards in Scotland bar Orkney and Western Isles had reported cases of coronavirus and on March 13 the first person in the nation died from the virus. Then on March 23 Boris Johnson ordered a complete national lockdown to contain the spread of the virus. We were all told to “stay at home”
Our readers wanted answers to their questions on Covid-19, it was new and scary for us all. ‘Is coronavirus in Edinburgh?’, ‘How long it takes for coronavirus symptoms to appear? and even supermarket opening times were what people wanted to know. How might the virus directly affect our lives life?
We couldn’t keep up with the demand. March was the biggest month in the history of the EEN website for traffic, we had over 25 million article views. None of us celebrated (nor wanted to) this fact, but we did try our utmost to cover every angle of the pandemic locally and nationally for you.
We reported on the rise in panic buying ahead of lockdown like this story of ‘a young couple stuffing raw chicken into a suitcase’ at the very height of tension amid rapidly escalating cases.
It was a troubling time.
As we were all stuck at home, people needed some relief from the endless stream of Covid news.
Luckily our retro reporter David McLean was on hand to oblige. In April, right in the middle of lockdown, his photo feature exploring Edinburgh during its industrial golden years was one of the most read on the site.
Nearly everything else that month, in terms of popularity online, related to Covid-19 updates, explanations of the rules and what might be next for our area.
In May there was excitement as more and more businesses in Edinburgh and the Lothians were allowed to reopen.
We were heading towards summer and there was hope the worst of the pandemic was behind us. None of these reopenings generated more interest on the EEN website than hairdressers, which like many industries, was given a date for when they could reopen under the Scottish Government’s route map out of Covid-19. Going by our newsroom Zoom calls, we assume after two months of lockdown there were some dodgy homemade haircuts in the Capital urgently needing professional attention.
Our readers’ thoughts began to stray overseas as thousands of you also read about the Jet2 destinations you can fly to from Edinburgh Airport.
Summer arrived and with it the elusive Scottish sunshine. Restrictions on our way of life continued to loosen and, in 2020 terms, things were looking good.
The sun beamed down at the end of June giving us the hottest day of the year (at that point) and causing thousands of us to flock to beaches and open spaces.
Our most read stories of the month concerned crowds packing Portobello beach and a massive brawl breaking out in the Meadows. Our readers argued with each other over the conduct of those flocking in groups to the Capital’s beauty spots. One side reminding folk the pandemic and social distancing were very much still in place, the other side insisting after months of being cooped up people shouldn’t be condemned for enjoying themselves.
When we entered July the economic impact of the pandemic on local businesses was becoming more apparent.
Our most read story covered a selection of Edinburgh pubs and restaurants which closed permanently due to impact of Covid-19. We intensified our #SupportLocal campaign calling on our readers (and staff) to spend their money with local shops when possible to help them weather the Covid storm.
Sticking with the hospitality sector, other popular stories in July included our report on the Longstone pub which was forced to close temporarily after 'collapsing into Water of Leith’ and the Liberton hotel set to be demolished and replaced with student flats.
In August the UK Government ramped up their Eat Out to Help Out scheme, encouraging the public to have meals in struggling restaurants in an attempt to prop up the industry.
Our feature on Edinburgh restaurants offering the Eat Out to Help Out scheme in September was as a result one of the most read articles on our website.
Away from coronavirus we reported a body had been found at Craigmillar Park and our sport team told how Hearts were furious after being ordered to stop training by SPFL and SFA.
We rolled into autumn and interest from our readers focussed around the shops and restaurants confirmed as Edinburgh's new St James Quarter announces rebrand.
Three crime stories featured high up our most-read table for the month of September. First, Shona Elliott reported how months after a ban from AirBnB an Edinburgh con man was back, renting out party flats and leaving owners in the lurch. Then we added our voice to the campaign to bring Conor Howard home. The East Lothian man was at the centre of a bizarre jail nightmare after it emerged he was placed on an international most wanted list without knowing it - for being found with a £10 piece of drugs paraphernalia in his luggage nearly a year ago. Finally, we reported on a stabbing on a residential street in Craigentinny.
In October we began to report on the worrying rise of local outbreaks across our patch. An outbreak of Covid-19 in a ward at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh left some patients dead.
We also saw the introduction of the Scottish Government’s five tier lockdown system with our Local Democracy Reporter Joseph Anderson breaking the news the city was to be placed into level three in the new system – the second highest level.
As the nights drew in and we needed something to smile about. Rachel Mackie delivered with a wholesome story about a picture which captured Edinburgh parents going to extreme lengths to watch their kids play football. Over a million people read the article which told of dads climbing on top of vans and bringing ladders so they could watch a kids football match from outside the grounds as per social distancing rules.
We also broke the story on Edinburgh's Christmas Market receiving a green light to proceed next year but with strict conditions.
At the start of December Edinburgh police responded to several calls about “explosions”. Thousands of residents in the Capital leapt out of bed around 4:40am on December 4 with a fright after a thunderous bang was heard.
It was thunderous because it was..well..thunder, or more specifically ‘thundersnow’. The rare weather phenomenon is caused when the air low to the ground is warm enough to cause a thunderstorm, while the air above it is cold enough to create snow. Whatever happened we can vouch it was indeed incredbily loud.
In other news, Ian Swanson reported on plans submitted to transform Edinburgh's Debenhams Princes Street store into 'hub' with rooftop bar.