The History of Cost Cutting, sorry, Publishing

The history of publishing at britannica.com goes a long way to confirm issues I have been involved in during my working life. From 1999 to 2011 I worked in newspaper printing. I was involved in the last guard of the old newspapers and magazines. In-fact I was a culprit in its demise. I started work in publishing in 1989, this was the beginning of “Desktop Publishing”, when you sat at a personal computer, usually an Apple Macintosh and with Quark Express software you could make a publication. A long way from hot metal printing where you arranged hard metal letters on a frame which was transferred to paper, sheet by sheet. So there I was, I was an unskilled computer operator who had not done a ten year apprenticeship in printing and there I was making magazines and newspapers. The software would send to a machine that made a film picture of the page and that would be transferred to the printing plate. The plate would then be strapped to a press and many copies of my work would be made. I was paid probably half, or a quarter, of what those people who had gone the long way into printing got. Printing was once very well paid indeed. The rot had set in, and I was the rot.

Fast forward to my working in newspaper printing. Again, the old technology was being replaced. The long way round was becoming simplified with technology. Cheaper workers were coming in, wages were going down.

I was involved in the printing of paid for newspapers and the free papers that you get though your door, that you usually don’t want. How do those free papers get to you for free? Advertising. The only way newspapers exist at all is not journalism, no, it’s how many advertising pages they can sell. No advertising, no newspaper, no jobs in printing. During my time in newspapers the market was shrinking due to the internet. There were no eyes on those adverts in the newspapers, so the advertisers were moving away.

What did that mean for newspapers then? Cost cutting. The printing plant I worked in was about five years old when I joined. They decided ten years later that half the printing should be outsourced to News International (Murdock) as they could print for a fraction of the price. I decided the time had come to leave and I went off to be a conservationist, to save the planet. A couple of years later they closed the 17 year old printing plant for good and all the titles went to News International. Good old cost cutting.

(Note: News International is now called News UK and they basically own the news, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/News_UK but then Murdock basically owns the world news and has for sometime.)

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