When the dispute between Rupert Murdoch's News International NI, publisher of the Times, Sunday Times, News of the World and Sun newspapers, and the major print unions erupted into what was almost universally known as the battle of Wapping during the opening weeks of 1986, there was widespread concern not only at what appeared to be more evidence of the parlous state of British industrial relations, but that central to the confrontation were apparently wholesale abuses of power which allegedly subverted the concept of the liberty of the Press. The immediate reactions triggered by events at Wapping, and the ideological references used to try to contextualise those events, were for the most part superficial. Longrun concerns about the trend of industrial relations, or more meaningful reflections on wider questions of the freedom of the media, rarely, if ever, entered the agenda. While since 19867 these issues have been addressed, they have usually been considered either in isolation from one another or crudely juxtaposed in terms of the effects on the economics of publishing. Moreover, industrial relations in the newspaper industry have not commonly attracted the attention of specialists in the field, and have traditionally been considered too peculiar to have much broader relevance. Yet events at Wapping have been seen as heralding a revolution in Fleet Street, invested with far more substantial and broader material and symbolic meaning for example, Andrew Neil, editor of the Sunday Times, recently projected Wapping as marking a decisive break with the discredited past of this failed nation.
Management Research News – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 1, 1993
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