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Extinction Rebellion block printing site
Courtesy Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion protesters block newspaper printing sites

The activist group has targeted sites owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp to highlight their failure to accurately report on the climate crisis

The climate activist group Extinction Rebellion has blockaded three printworks belonging to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, disrupting the distribution of major national newspapers – including The Sun and the Daily Mail – printed by the corporation.

The action, which began last night (September 4) and carried over to today (September 5) has seen 72 people arrested. According to BBC News, more than 100 activists were involved in blocking the three presses at Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, Knowsley in Merseyside, and Motherwell in North Lanarkshire. Protesters used vehicles and locked themselves onto bamboo structures to block roads to the sites, and carried banners reading, “Free the truth” and “5 crooks control our news”.

Critics of the protest, including Boris Johnson and home secretary Priti Patel, have suggested that it is an attack on the free press, with Johnson writing on Twitter: “A free press is vital in holding the government and other powerful institutions to account on issues critical for the future of our country, including the fight against climate change.”

The claim was echoed by The Sun in a tweet this morning, as the newspaper explained that some copies would be late arriving at newsagents.

Extinction Rebellion, however, states that the aim of the disruption is to highlight the failure of these press corporations to “accurately report on the climate and ecological emergency, and their consistent manipulation of the truth to suit their own personal and political agendas”.

The presses involved in the demonstration are print titles owned by Murdoch’s News Corp, including The Sun, The Times, their respective Sunday issues, The Scottish Sun, The Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, and the London Evening Standard.

“We’re not moving forward at the speed we need to turn the climate and ecological emergency around,” said Extinction Rebellion in a statement about the protest. “We’re trapped somewhere between acceptance and the reality of just how bad the situation is. The right wing media is a barrier to the truth, failing to reflect the scale and urgency of the crisis and hold governments to account.” 

“Coverage in many of the newspapers printed here is polluting national debate on climate change, immigration policy, the rights and treatment of minority groups, and on dozens of other issues. They distract us with hate and maintain their own power and wealth, profiting from our division.”

Earlier this week (September 3), Extinction Rebellion activists also glued themselves to the ground outside the Houses of Parliament as part of an ongoing two-week disruption. Among their demands is a call for the government to back the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill, a grassroots campaign co-founded by XR, which they claim would force the government “to act fast, accounting for our entire carbon footprint while actively conserving nature here and overseas”.

View the full London schedule for the two weeks of disruption (which started on September 1 and is set to conclude on September 10) here.