Consternation as protesters block newspapers

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Some 150 protestors across three UK print sites managed to block the distribution of millions of copies of daily printed newspapers from being distributed, prompting a chorus of anguish from everyone from the prime minster down.

Attacking the press, or saving the planet: Extinction rebellion blocks newspaper it diasgrees with from reaching readers
Attacking the press, or saving the planet: Extinction rebellion blocks newspaper it disagrees with from reaching readers

The Extinction Rebellion protestors were intent on stopping the Murdoch papers getting to newsagents, and largely succeeded, by erecting bamboo blockades and gluing themselves to the road.

The three plants, just outside London, Liverpool and Glasgow, print not only Murdoch papers the Sun and the Times, but others including the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. The UK newspaper owners moved to print sharing a long time ago.

Between them the three plants produce millions of copies of daily newspapers for the Poms to consume over breakfast. Some papers were able to be printed at other print sites, but the majority of newsagents shelves remained empty.

Police eventually cleared the protestors, but too late for the newspapers to be distributed, they went straight back to be recycled.

Ironically, that morning’s edition of the UK’s biggest selling paper, and an eco-warrior target, the Sun, had a large piece from renowned environmentalist Sir David Attenborough, calling for environmental protection.

The high-profile action by Extinction Rebellion has put it firmly in the crosshairs of the British establishment, which is looking at having the group listed as a criminal gang, so it can enforce much tougher penalties on it.

The protestors want climate change to be on the front page of newspapers and disagree with the stance of much of the British press. The Murdoch press in Australia takes a similar sceptical line to climate change claims to its British counterparts, and while Extinction Rebellion is active in Australia, there have as yet been no attempts to block the press.

Australian newspaper printing is in the middle of a big move to consolidation and print sharing, after two centuries of newspapers owning their own newspaper printing facilities. Nine, formerly Fairfax, now has no printing capability of its own, ACM, which bought the Nine regional press a year ago, is moving in that direction, having already closed five of the nine print plants that came with the deal.

News, meanwhile has consolidated its plants, and reached deals with Nine and ACM to print much of their work, and is currently building  a new greenfield site on the outskirts of Melbourne, which will produce its own papers, as well as those for Nine and ACM. Smaller publishers are scrambling  to find press time for their jobs to be printed on, some Queensland publishers for instance are now having to have their papers printed on the presses at the ACM site in Richmond, 1000 miles away in the north of Sydney.

Most of the UK national newspaper industry is owned by five men, none of whom is not known for their progressive views. The exception is the Guardian, which espouses a climate-change agenda more in line with the protestors views and was not targeted.

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