Out Of Print

Walk down Fleet Street these days and you have to look hard for evidence of the glories of the past - a commemorative sign outside a pub where once reporters spent long and very liquid lunch-hours, a statue of a press baron, an address that seems to ring a bell.

With the newspaper offices now scattered hither and thither, this series re-creates the history of how one small area of London came to be so identified internationally with the gathering and dissemination of news, from seemingly insignificant beginnings in the 17th century.

What have been the gains and losses since Fleet Street itself went 'Out of Print'? Presented by Philippa Kennedy.

Episodes

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01Wynkyn's Wonder2004020420040911

Walk down Fleet Street these days and you have to look hard for evidence of the glories of the past - a commemorative sign outside a pub where once reporters spent long and very liquid lunch-hours, a statue of a press baron, an address that seems to ring a bell.

With the newspaper offices now scattered hither and thither, this series re-creates the history of how one small area of London came to be so identified internationally with the gathering and dissemination of news, from seemingly insignificant beginnings in the 17th century.

What have been the gains and losses since Fleet Street itself went 'Out of Print'? Presented by Philippa Kennedy.Caxton's assistant Wynkyn De Worde brought printing to the Fleet Street area five hundred years ago.

His back-street business was the seed for the creation of the best-known newsgathering location on earth.

And yet the decades following the publication of the first British newspaper in the 1620s were fraught with threats and obstruction from the state, including licensing laws, imprisonment and swingeing taxes.

Simple human curiosity to hear the news, not forgetting proprietors' profit motives, won out in the end.

02The World To Your Table2004021120040918

The year 1814 brought the revolutionary new steam press to Fleet Street. 1892 saw the introduction of the amazing linotype machines which chattered in newspapers for almost a century. In between, technological change in the world of British newspapers was unceasing. And yet until the 1850s, government tax placed a daily paper beyond the reach of most citizens. Once this obstacle was swept away, a truly popular press began to emerge which, with a little help from the electric telegraph, brought the world to people's breakfast tables.

03 LASTPrestige, Propaganda And Profits2004021820040925

The 20th century saw tabloids emerge as a potent new force on Fleet Street. Meanwhile competition to newspapers arrived in the shape of radio and television. But as long as owners put prestige and propaganda before profits, they tolerated the influence of print unions. Then came the Wapping dispute of the late 1980s and a revolution in production without parallel in the history of the British newspaper. In no time, Fleet Street was almost literally 'out of print' as title after title abandoned the area. But do newspapers still have a future in the era of satellite news and the internet?