News International‘s four national newspapers will have later deadlines and more design options when the company ends 22 years of printing at its Wapping headquarters next month.
NI unveiled its £187m Broxbourne printing plant in north London last week – said by NI to be the biggest in the world – and explained how the technologically advanced plant would revolutionise its newspapers’ production.
The UK arm of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation media empire has invested £650m on Broxbourne and two other printing sites in Knowsley, near Liverpool, and Motherwell, near Glasgow.
Clive Milner, group managing editor, told Press Gazette: ‘It affects the process of journalism in a number of ways. It allows the editors to refresh and redesign the product, and that’s good news for readers.’
The Sun – which has been printed at Broxbourne since the end of January – now has later deadlines with its Monday to Friday first national edition going off-stone at 10.15pm followed by a second edition at 12.30am.
The Sunday Times can now be printed entirely on Saturday, meaning that sections such as business, that were printed during the week, can now be moved to ‘live’slots.
Whereas Wapping’s printing presses could manage 36,000 part-colour copies per hour – an impressive rate in 1986 – Broxbourne’s 12 presses can each produce 86,000 full-colour copies per hour and use only a third of the staff.
The size of 23 football pitches, the site uses a computerised system that automatically runs each step of the printing process. The 12 presses can produce tabloid and broadsheet copies simultaneously and even change reels of paper automatically.
All Sun and News of the World copies are now produced at the three new plants and on-day ‘live’sections of The Times and The Sunday Times. The full printing of The Times and The Sunday Times will move over to the new presses in April.
On 25 January the last copies of The Sun were printed at Wapping – almost 22 years to the day that the first Suns ran off the presses on 27 January 1986.
Broxbourne will also print The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph at some point this year, when the papers move from the Westferry plant in London’s Docklands. NI will make additional revenue from contract publishing deals.
Rupert Murdoch moved printing of The Sun, News of the World, The Times and The Sunday Times to Wapping in east London in 1986 amid a bitter industrial dispute with journalism and printing trades unions.