Eastern Daily Press editor Peter Franzen must have been the happiest man in Norfolk last Friday, writes Jean Morgan. Heavy snow blanketing the county stopped nearly all national papers getting up the M11.
“It was like being a kid in a sweetshop,” said Franzen. “We had a wonderful time. There were no national newspapers in large parts of Norfolk and Norwich. Our drivers did brilliantly [getting the EDP out to newsagents] and one of our merchandisers, who couldn’t get a van down a road, borrowed a supermarket trolley and pushed papers down to the shops.”
The Archant newspaper had a big story breaking – a Norwich man freed of paedophile charges after a child admitted he had made up the accusations – and had already decided to do a box out which gave them an extra 5,000 papers. Nevertheless, as newsagents called for top-ups, “it got to a point during the day where we were going round this building picking up any spare copies we had so we could ship them out to newsagents,” said Franzen. “We had a bumper sale.” He reckoned it would be in the region of 6,000-7,000 extra copies.
Despite a breakdown at the EDP’s print plant, the paper still got out on time.
But it took the van carrying the Ham&High’s entire print run 14 hours to reach Hampstead from Archant’s Norfolk print plant at the height of the snow storms. The driver found himself snow-locked in traffic on the M11.
Instead of reaching Hampstead on Thursday evening for sale on Friday morning, the copies only made the wholesalers by 4pm Friday and staff from the newspaper were helping deliver some of the papers.
Editor Geoff Martin described the driver’s journey as “fairly heroic. He did need a hot cup of coffee when he arrived.”
The Lincolnshire Echo is printed on-site in Lincoln, which helped editor Mike Sassi to ensure that every newsagent got their supply on time. Even though the county experienced some of the heaviest snow, the paper’s delivery vans reached outlying areas such as Boston and Skegness.
By Jean Morgan