Talk:Wapping dispute

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Article is confusing

I know nothing about the Wapping dispute. When I read the article I couldn't understand why it claimed that the dispute was significant for British labour relations. The problem is that the articles has:-

- no explanation why the union needed an agreement covering the transfer to Wapping - no explanation why the Wapping plant was built clandestinely - no explanation whether / why News International were going to switch to a new printing process resulting in redundancies.

In summary, the article seems to describe a stoush between management and workers because management built a new plant. The article should explain more clearly why this was seen as sinister. (talk) 20:56, 29 January 2011 (UTC)

There are a couple of problems here, otherwise okay article.

Firstly, para 2 focuses on cost savings for journalists keying in directly. Reality is that journalists and editors loved the ability to be able to change things right up to the last minute, which is of course of importance in a newspaper trying to have the latest info and competing with TV and these days the internet. On this point too it allowed for the use of colour and other graphic changes eg the Today newspaper. By failing to adopt this new technology, and even dominate it as they had done with typesetters, the unions inevitably lost when journalists, editors, publishers, owners, advertisers and even readers all supported it for the many advantages it would bring.

Secondly, the last paragraph is pretty erroneous, listing only the Sunday Correspondent and The Independent. There has also been the previously mentioned Today newspaper, and The Post both set up by Eddie Shah and which predated Wapping; The European, which though no longer existing, was an interesting attempt to develop a multi edition, multi language pan European newspaper only possible through use of the new technology; and the short lived News on Sunday.

Other papers set up since have included the Daily Sport and Sunday Sport.

This is not bad as before then Fleet Street had string of newspapers which had shut down, and no new ones eg News Chronicle, Daily Sketch and mergers eg London's Evening Standard/Evening News. So choice was quite significantly enlarged ie about 50% enlarged compared to existing titles, and in fact revolutionised the UK newspaper industry in terms of style and content. The fact that not all were successful illustrates that choice alone is not the sole factor. The new production methods and technology have allowed use of colour, and multiple sections amongst other things - hardly trivial.

The new production methods of course also allow the printing of newspapers and magazines in more than one centre at once, even abroad.

But choice has certainly spread in the plethora of magazines that are now available - the press is all print, not just newspapers. The "media" of course encompasses not only print, but film, TV and now internet. But the technology is pretty much the same for TV and internet, and that has led to an enormous increase in choice, though as we know, not always better quality eg satellite TV <g>.

The truth is, as Steve Jobs of Apple Computer put it, the new technology and production methods empowered the rest of us, and it's results are long lasting, and led to a bigger media. Along the way, it let all of us produce newsletters and other media unthinkable in pre-Wapping days, which has allowed the internet to develop in the way it has, and ultimately onto blogging.

Thinking you could stop this technological juggernaut was a loser from the start.

Tony Spencer. (16+ years as a Production Editor).

Someone knowledgeable might like to write an article about the industrial dispute (I seem to recall debate as to whether it was a strike or a lock-out) immediately preceding (and enabling) Murdoch's purchase of The Times. Omicron18 15:34, 11 August 2006 (UTC)

Wapping Dispute origins

I wrote the original text for his piece, and agree that some of the subsequent changes are not wholly accurate, although not wholly inaccurate either. The piece seems to hold together pretty well, though, and I've been loathe to add much more detail for fear of making an informative piece rather flabby. I have written elsewhere in more detail about the dispute and there is a nice piece in John Pilger's "Hidden Agenda", now listed as an online resource, although the definitive works on the Dispute are Suellen Littleton's "Wapping Dispute" and Linda Melvern's "End of the Street". There's other stuff around but it is mostly derivative or narrow in scope, and the Wapping Dispute does feature in literature in the writings of Tim Lott and Bill Bryson, and possibly others. Does anyone feel we need more detail on the piece here? Nicoatridge (talk) 09:47, 9 February 2009 (UTC)

Prop: R Murdoch

He's actually chairman and chief exec - not precisely proprietor. There are shareholders... --Cunningham 11:13, 2 September 2006 (UTC)

Possible copyright violation

This article appears to be heavily based on the page at , which is marked © Nic Oatridge 2003. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 18:30, 15 January 2007 (UTC).

I'm the author, Nic Oatridge. I'm happy to see the material reproduced here and, as amended, see it in the public domain. --NicOatridge

Right wing

The idea that most UK newspapers are right wing is rubbish. Most UK newspapers are reactionary, perhaps, but can hardly be described as right wing. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:13, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Personal opinion really doesn't have a place on Wikipedia. Zchris87v 00:56, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

Missing information

This article really doesn't mention the location. Since I don't know much about the geography of where it took place, I don't feel I'm quite qualified to add in this information. Granted that unless you're reading something about Wapping, you won't have much interest in this article, but I stumbled upon it and if it weren't for the fact that I'd only once heard of Wapping before, I'd have no idea. For example, the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 mentions the location of Tianamen Square and the city, but as Beijing is well enough known, it doesn't need a country location (hopefully you can figure out where London is, in this instance). Zchris87v 00:56, 24 October 2007 (UTC)

The article refers to the location as Wapping, which has a full listing in Wikipedia and a link. There is also references to the specific streets which featured prominently in the dispute. I think this is probably OK for a piece of this length. However I will look at clarifying the location. nicoatridge 21 Jan 2008 —Preceding unsigned comment added by Nicoatridge (talkcontribs) 16:30, 21 January 2008 (UTC)


Bryson's eye-catching claim has been discredited since January 1986. Bryson doesn't elaborate on its source; it was in fact claimed (with the qualifier "apparently...") in The Times of 10 December 1985 (page 2). A correction was published on 16 January 1986 ("'Telegraph' staffing", page 15), in which H.M. Stephen, managing director of the Telegraph, stated: "The statement is untrue.The number of production staff given in the placing document for potential investors was accurate and is unchanged." Now, why the Murdoch-owned Times would have printed an article which turned out to be false - an article which attacked the print unions (who Murdoch was about to sack en masse at his own titles), and which was damaging to the reputation and future of a rival newspaper which was looking for investors (the "300 extra staff" article went on to say that these phantom workers represented an extra £13.5 million in redundancy payments)... well, why indeed? Bryson was working at The Times when both items were printed and so would have known that the claim was proven untrue and unfounded. But he still chose to repeat it 10 years later - without disclaimer, qualifier or correction. As such, his book clearly cannot be considered reliable or impartial. Keri (talk) 21:07, 13 May 2016 (UTC)

Who is Bryson, and what are his claims? Mlewan (talk) 05:44, 14 May 2016 (UTC)
Bill Bryson. The article previously contained long quotations from his humorous travelog, Notes from a Small Island. The size of the quotations in the article immediately drew my attention – the first was 1707 characters, the second 587 - but on reading them in full it became clear that they were also unsuitable. The first was used as a description of the pre-entry union closed shop system, the second to emphasize picket line violence. The first – as outlined above – contained inaccurate and discredited claims. Bryson worked on the Business News desk at The Times alongside the journalist who wrote the discredited article, so it is difficult to imagine he did not know about the rebuttal from the Telegraph.
The second quote was deftly trimmed; eg the quoted phrase "The memory engraved in my skull was of throngs of demonstrators, police on horses, and angry pickets," has been truncated from its original which continued "who one minute would be screaming at you with wild eyes and big teeth and the next would say, 'Oh, hi, Bill, didn't recognize you,' and then exchange fags and talk about what a dreadful business this all was. And it was a dreadful business, for among the 5,000 sacked workers were hundreds and hundreds of decent, mild­mannered librarians, clerks, secretaries and messengers whose only sin was to have joined a union. To their eternal credit, most bore those of us still in work no personal grudges..." It also, as indicated by ellipses, omits some material but is misleading in that the omitted material is actually pages of text in the original published work.
There are many, more reliable, academic sources that should be used for this article; Bryson tells "a good story" - but he is not a serious historian of 1980s British industrial relations. Keri (talk) 12:48, 14 May 2016 (UTC)


After my late mother's passing, we found out that she with a small staff team at the behest of Murdoch were charged with building a prototype London paper utilising part of the Sunday Times building at first then another place over in East London but not Wapping itself, that would use computer networked systems for written and submission work and would have been used the new printing technology that ended up in Wapping. She was chosen as prior she was the editor of the Times/Sunday Times Royal Wedding Supplement and was well respected in the Times news room that is until Murdoch man David Blake took over and started pruning the Times and Sunday Times from what he called union nutters which boded ill for my mother who was mother of chapel for both NUJ and SOGAT.

Prior to the Gray's Inn Rd riots and protests, all those who would move to Wapping were given the "nod" by Murdoch's team and all those who expressed support of or were involved with a union were dropped which of course included father and mothers of chapel for the three print unions. I remember the phone calls between my mother and Murdoch's hatchet man Tudor Hopkins as she remonstrated about the last months salary owing and redundancy and his words were cold and hard in response basically saying she was going to get nothing for her years long hard work.

This was done as a project under the unions radar so to speak, as such would have antagonised all three print unions and hence why the subterfuge used as setting up a new paper similar to the Evening Standard that would not have been unionised.

She was considered much a "doer" in the newspaper business having also worked with Shah's Today and assisting her former colleague Robert Fisk in developing what became the Independent newspaper as her and Robert were desk buddies in Philip Howards office at the Times.

It may well have been Murdoch's intention to have brought out a London wide newspaper with the Evening News long gone and the Standard the only real London newspaper left, there certainly was a niche in the market for another London paper, the fact that it all played out as it did like a very well planned operation putting so many people out of work without their last months pay or any redundancy and little support from Thatcher who quite enjoyed seeing the union folks given a hard time. Many people had lost their livelihood and with a glut of printers, writers etc many were forced out of the business altogether.

Just a little snapshot of how it may well have come to pass, my late mother remained in the print for some years more but went on to become a film and television screen and scriptwriter. She never quite forgave herself over it all and indeed was working on a screenplay all about it when she passed on, sadly never to be finished. (talk) 13:23, 25 January 2021 (UTC)