Regional newspapers were among titles severely delayed after Extinction Rebellion protestors blockaded a number of press plants over the weekend.
Protesters blockaded two major printing presses overnight on Friday to stop a range of national newspapers reaching newsstands on Saturday. Protestors claimed they were making a stand against what they called national titles’ “failure to report on the climate & ecological emergency”.
More than 100 protesters used vehicles and bamboo lock-ons to block roads outside the Newsprinters printing works at Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, and Knowsley, near Liverpool. There were reports of protests at a plant in Scotland too.
The presses print the Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp’s titles including The Sun, The Times, The Sun on Sunday and The Sunday Times, as well as The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, and the London Evening Standard.
However, a number of local titles, including the Eastern Daily Press, Norwich Evening News and East Anglian Daily Times are printed at the same site and were affected by the disruption.
They were later printed at another site, but arrived at shops many hours late, and without pre-printed magazine Heaven which is normally part of the Saturday package.
The knock-on effect of the delayed printing was felt by local titles not even printed at affected sites as wholesalers in some areas waited until the late papers arrived.
James Mitchinson, editor of the Yorkshire Post, apologised to readers after reports that the title’s flagship weekend edition was very late getting to shops.
He wrote on Twitter in response to questions about the YP not being available: “Our issue is with distribution — the knock-on effect from a protest that shut down presses overnight.
“Be assured, we do not believe anyone who lives in this country should be denied access to a free press, and have doubled down hard on the effort to catch up and get copy on sale.
“We are not a massive publisher. We don’t earn huge salaries. Our newsagents are humble hardworking people, as are our printers, van drivers and delivery boys and girls. We rely on newspaper sales to pay the wages that families rely on.
“This country is what it is because it protects free speech, free thought & a free press. A press that without fear or favour holds the powerful to account. But our role is as much about keeping elderly and vulnerable folk company as it is grandiose callings and we’re absent today.”
Tesco, Narborough Road pic.twitter.com/NO5DDnw82o
— Dan Martin (@Danjamesmartin) September 5, 2020
A spokesperson for Newsprinters said on Saturday: “Overnight printing at two Newsprinters plants was disrupted by activity by Extinction Rebellion. Thanks to other industry partners, printing was transferred to other sites.
“We apologise sincerely to any readers of The Sun, The Times, the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times who may be unable to buy their usual newspaper this morning due to late deliveries.
“Our teams are working to get newspapers delivered to retailers as soon as possible this morning.
“This attack on all of the free press impacted many workers going about their jobs. Overnight print workers, delivery drivers, wholesale workers and retail newsagents have faced delays and financial penalty.”
This piece first appeared on Behind Local News.