In the early hours of Monday morning, an electrical fire broke out at William Rust House, the East London office of the socialist newspaper the Morning Star. The fire, believed to have been caused by a malfunctioning air-conditioner, broke out at approximately 3am and caused considerable structural damage to both the interior of the Morning Star’s newsroom and the equipment within, knocking out both electrical power and phone lines.
As the paper’s staff arrived for work on what was to turn out to be a particularly unpleasant Monday morning, they were faced with a partially collapsed ceiling and a newsroom reeking of smoke and caked with ash. Furthermore, as a consequence of the fire, there was additional smoke and water damage to both floors of the building.
Morning Star journalists, together with the paper’s editorial and support staff, quickly sprang into action to ensure that not even a single edition of Britain’s only socialist daily newspaper would be prevented from reaching newsagents around the country. In order to keep the paper rolling off the presses, staff salvaged what equipment they could from the smoky and soot-coated office and set up emergency news and subs desks in the front rooms of properties in Bow and Hackney, managing to continue producing daily editions of the paper, albeit truncated ones.
No-one would disagree that this calamity is a setback for the paper and its supporters. The inside of William Rust House, named after the Morning Star’s first editor, needs to be cleaned and renovated. This task is expected to take at least two months, and it is thought that all the office computers are beyond repair. Although the equipment was insured, it will take a while for it all to be replaced.
Both the Morning Star and its staff have faced numerous setbacks since the paper’s inception back in January 1930. These obstacles have included a government-imposed ban on sale of the newspaper, a 12-year boycott by wholesalers, imprisonment of the newspaper’s staff, as well as damage from the bombing raids during the Blitz. However, such hurdles have only intensified the resolve of all who have worked at the Star to carry on producing a progressive newspaper that covers the news stories and raises issues that much of the rest of the mainstream media either overlook or choose to ignore.
The clean-up operation at William Rust House has already begun, with both the internet and phone lines having been brought back on line. By the time that Thursday’s edition was printed, the paper had recovered to a length of 12 pages.
Although the Morning Star will continue to keep the Red Flag flying high, now is a moment when the paper requires your support. Those wishing to donate to the paper’s Fighting Fund, at a time when financial support is needed as much as ever, can do so via the Morning Star website http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk.
With your help and support, the Miracle of Fleet Street, as the Morning Star has been described, will rise from the ashes and retake its place in the vanguard of the struggle for peace and socialism.
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This post was written by Tomasz Pierscionek