Stop press: Last two journalists leave London's Fleet Street

Fri Aug 5, 2016 10:52am EDT
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By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) - Three decades after media mogul Rupert Murdoch instigated its demise as the centuries-old home of Britain's newspaper industry, London's Fleet Street bade farewell on Friday to its last two journalists.

Known as the "Street of Shame", Fleet Street once housed thousands of reporters, editors and printers working for the country's biggest national papers as well as international and provincial publications.

While the British press is still collectively known as "Fleet Street", from Friday there will no longer be any working journalists there after the Scottish-based Sunday Post newspaper closed its London operation.

"It's a far sadder day for journalism than it is for me personally," said Darryl Smith, 43, one of the street's last two "hacks". "Journalism is no more in Fleet Street."

The thoroughfare became synonymous with publishing from 1500 when Wynkyn de Worde established a printing press. The first daily newspaper, the Daily Courant, launched in 1702.

In the shadow of St Paul's Cathedral, the street was ideally located for journalists, being in walking distance of the city's financial district, the Royal Courts of Justice and politicians in Westminster.

"Anyone interested in journalism and mass newspapers realizes that Fleet Street is the heart of it all," said Murdoch when he bought the News of the World tabloid in 1969.

However, he was at the heart of its decline when in 1986 he moved his newspaper stable, which by then also included the Times and Sunday Times broadsheets and the Sun tabloid, to a new purpose-built operation in east London, where new technology replaced the hot metal printing presses.   Continued...

A road sign is displayed on a building in Fleet Street in London, Britain August 5, 2016. REUTERS/Neil Hall