An editor has hit out at the “suppression of local news” after copies of a neighbouring newspaper were prevented from reaching its patch.
Mark Waldron, editor of The News, Portsmouth has demanded answers from both Essex Police and Thurrock Council over the incident, in which police blocked delivery drivers from leaving the plant where the National World title is printed.
Now Newsquest Hampshire regional editor Kimberley Barber has publicly expressed her solidarity with the Portsmouth daily following the incident, which came amid a protest by environmental campaigners near the plant.
Kimberley, who was business editor at The News before moving to her current role with Newsquest, criticised the police’s decision as having “undermined the principle of journalism” in an editorial for the Hampshire Chronicle entitled ‘Why we must not stand for suppression of local news’.
Kimberley, pictured, wrote: “The newspaper released an online version for free, and by Tuesday, Monday’s papers had also reached the shops. God bless the poor lorry driver.
“But ultimately, it’s a worrying state of affairs when the freedom of the press is threatened. Questions need answering – and assurances need to be given that this will not happen again – at The News or at any other local newspaper.”
Speaking to HTFP, she added: “The delivery problems that affected The News could happen to any local news title and it is vital that plans are in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
“I keep a close eye on my former workplace, and I have a great respect for the editor Mark Waldron and his hard-working team. I know how devastated they must have been to see their hard work prevented from reaching the shops.
“It’s such a difficult time for local news right now as we fight to stay in business amid rising production costs, the cost-of-living crisis hitting our readers’ ability to buy our papers and a growing distrust from the public.
“It is vital that reputable, trusted local news continues to reach our communities. It must not happen again.”
Essex Police previously told The News the decision was made to “maintain everyone’s safety, keep traffic moving and minimise the impact of disruption to critical businesses and infrastructure”.