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Morning Paper

About the film

'Morning Paper' follows the production of an issue of The Times during the Blitz, from the daily editorial conference to the printing presses.


Release year
Donald Carter
Production company
G.B. Instructional
H. Bruce Woolfe
Jack Parker
Darrel Catling
Running time (minutes)
10 mins 35 secs

Original Description

A British Newspaper in TIme of War
'A description of how, in spite of air raids, a famous London Newspaper carries on. From the pre-war offices above ground, the scene shifts to the Press Room below; the pages are composed and checked, curved stereos are made to fit the rotary presses. Bombs may fall, but the newspaper comes out on time.'
(Films of Britain - British Council Film Department Catalogue - 1942-43)


  • Though it is not explicitly stated in Morning Paper, it can be seen that the newspaper being printed is The Times. When Morning Paper was produced, The Times and The Sunday Times were entirely separate entities. Founded independently, they only came under common ownership in 1966.
  • It is probable that Morning Paper was made due to the presence of Elizabeth Dilys Powell - newspaper journalist and film critic for The Sunday Times - on the British Council’s Film Committee, which made film production decisions for the British Council.
  • The minutes of a 1941 British Council Film Committee meeting notes that members felt that Morning Paper had “too much war in it and not enough newspaper.”


Click below - or the link on the right - to see a transcript of the film



English Voiceover

With news pouring in from all over the world in the stirring days in which we live, the British people read their papers more than ever. On the way to work, in trains, tube, and omnibus, the news is being studied and opinions freely formed. Britons are inveterate newspaper readers, in their own homes or in public libraries. The morning survey of events, at home and abroad, is to them almost a ritual. How is the news collected for all these newspaper readers? For all these men and women, how is the news printed, published, and distributed?


English Voiceover

First go to Fleet Street, for the Fleet Street area is the home of the London press. In newspaper buildings, the day staff still use their pre-war offices above ground. Into these offices pour items of news from all quarters.


Various Voices

You’re through / Thomas speaking / Hello / (etc)


English Voiceover

At the daily editorial conference the layout of the paper is arranged and the relative importance of the news items weighed. What might be termed the ‘memory’ of a newspaper office is the Intelligence Department. Here, doubtful facts are checked and information gathered on widely different subjects.



Hello? Yes?


English Voiceover

Even in wartime advertising has its part to play. The crossword puzzle has a whole department to itself.


English Voiceover

Here in the Art Department, the staff are responsible for the layout and the presentation of the illustrations.


English Voiceover

The words “newspaper office” conjure up before all else the reporters’ room. Here it is, but not at all how it is sometimes represented in the films. Hard work, certainly, but no hustle. From its correspondence all around the globe, and from world famous news agencies, reports and messages pour in.


English Voiceover

Meanwhile, the leading article is being discussed by the editor and his leader writer. The sub-editors check and revise all written material as it comes in from reporters and correspondents. All the staff have their minds on their jobs, for on the roof above their spotters keep a lookout for enemy planes.


English Voiceover

As evening comes, lights flash throughout the offices to warn the staff that it’s blackout time and windows must be darkened.


English Voiceover

Now, the night staff comes onto work and at this time of day are accommodated below ground. The fire squad make sure everything is in readiness to deal with incendiary bombs. Always a danger, even in peacetime, fire is particularly menacing in a newspaper building, where tons of paper are required to produce a single issues of a national newspaper.


English Voiceover

Besides its fire squad, some papers have their own Home Guard to protect the building.


English Voiceover

Also below ground, the leader writer works, and his copy is one of the last items to be finished. The written copy comes to men working at type-composing machines. A combination of type-writer and foundry, they cast the metal type in column, which are then made up into forms or pages.


English Voiceover

Here are the forms. These have to be hammered flat, and then locked into position in their iron frames.


English Voiceover

Then a proof of the page is printed and carefully checked. All this composing and checking must be finished by nine o’clock so that the waiting presses can start running at 9:20. This enables the first edition to catch the first newspaper train, the ten o’clock from Marylebone.


English Voiceover

No raid yet.


English Voiceover

Newspapers are not printed direct from type because speed is so essential. Printing from a cylinder is much more rapid. An impression of the pages of type is therefore made on Papier-mâché, which is trimmed and curved before going to the foundry.


English Voiceover

Here, for the purpose of rotary printing, a semi-circular metal plate is cast of each page for fixing to the cylinders.


English Voiceover

These plates are arranged in order on the presses and locked into position. Sometimes there’s a rush. A minute or two in hand tonight.


English Voiceover

The presses start up. Slowly, at first. Then, at full speed.


English Voiceover

The alert. Unmoved by the raid above, the Editorial Departments handle late news items and the presses thunder on.


English Voiceover

In this room, the wartime signals are controlled – warning and danger lights for aircraft overhead. Relying on the signals, work in the press room goes on steadily and efficiently as usual. To newspaper men, nothing matters except getting the newspaper out on time. Outside, the raid is in full blast.


English Voiceover

In peacetime, the papers used to go upstairs to be dispatched; now they stay below.


English Voiceover

The lights dim – danger overhead. The staff go on quietly. Here below the surface they’re fairly safe.


English Voiceover

But the van drivers put on their tin helmets. They may have to drive through an inferno to reach the London mainline stations. High explosives, incendiaries, shells, fire, may lie between them and the stations.


English Voiceover

And they reach the station and the newspaper train starts just on time.


English Voiceover

Back in Fleet Street, the presses are still running and later editions are coming out. Night workers and air raid workers are thankful for the canteen which provides hot drinks and snacks through a noisy night until, at last, the roar of the presses dies down and the all-clear rings out.


English Voiceover

Workers who have been prevented from getting home by the raid sleep peacefully in cellar dormitories. The routine of the office has gone on as usual. So the paper boys get to work as usual.



Hmm. London had another raid last night.


English Voiceover

But raid or no raid, the papers were out on time.