The story that News of the World will publish its last edition on Sunday, after 168 years of selling crime, sex, sensation and scandal has shocked the newspaper world. It is the UK’s biggest selling Sunday paper, with a circulation of 2.66 million in May this year.
Revenue from the last edition will go to good causes, said chairman of News International, James Murdoch, in a statement. “Wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad and this was not fully understood or adequately pursued.”
Staff, said to be around 200 people, were told on Thursday. “You do not need to be told that the News of the World is 168 years old. That it is read by more people than any other English language newspaper. That it has enjoyed support from Britain’s largest advertisers. And that it has a proud history of fighting crime, exposing wrong-doing and regularly setting the news agenda for the nation,” Murdoch said.
The announcement comes in the wake of a phone hacking scandal that has lingered on for years. Roy Greenslade, writing in The Guardian, said that the News of the World, “To obtain exclusive material it dared to use the dark arts of subterfuge, entrapment, covert filming and agents provocateur. It must have seemed only natural to treat phone hacking as just another helpful device to obtain stories.”
News of the World hired private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire to intercept cellphone voicemail messages of murder victims, the parents of murdered girls, the bereaved relatives of the 7/7 bomb victims and the families of soldiers killed on active service.
Closing a paper that is a market leader and one that is extremely profitable is seen as a ‘breathtaking’ act on the part of Rupert Murdoch.Some are speculating that this will give the media mogul the opportunity to shred evidence of hacking as the police investigation heats up.
Media pundits in the UK speculate that it is the pressure from the US, where Murdoch’s News Corporation owns such entities as Fox cable TV channels, 20th Century Fox, Dow Jones which publishes the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post, is behind the closure. Fallout from the scandal could hurt his “crucial” US operations.
Speculation that the scandal is impacting on Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation’s bid to buy BSkyB, the UK’s largest cable news channel is rife. And with the public’s outrage over the phone hacking scandal continuing unabated, this could prove a stumbling block in News Corp’s bid to buy more control of the company, of which it already owns 39 percent.
Pundits believe that the US was not particularly concerned about the scandal until it was revealed that News of the World had hacked into the phones of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler and relatives of soldiers killed in Afghanistan. It was then that the story took off in the US.
There’s also the question of the involvement of Les Hinton, chief executive of Dow Jones. Hinton was executive chairman of News International, between 1995 and 2007 when he moved to New York. During the investigations, when NoW was asked to account for its actions to Parliament, he said one rogue journalist did the hacking. This has been revealed as being far from the truth.
Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, said: “The paper made statements to Parliament without being in the full possession of the facts. This was wrong.”
It is believed that Andy Coulson, who resigned as UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s communications director in January in the wake of the scandal that refused to go away, will be arrested today. Coulson was editor of the News of the World between 2003 and 2007. Coulson resigned a few weeks before the paper’s royal correspondent, Clive Goodman, and private investigator Mulcaire were jailed after admitting intercepting messages on royal aides’ phones.
“I want all journalism at News International to be beyond reproach. I insist that this organisation lives up to the standard of behaviour we expect of others. And, finally, I want you all to know that it is critical that the integrity of every journalist who has played fairly is restored,” Murdoch said.
However, there’s a groundswell of anger over the fact that the company’s chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, would keep her job. She was editor of the paper in 2002 when the phone of the murder Milly Dowler was hacked. When making the announcement that Sunday would see the final edition ever of News of the World, security guards accompanied Brook. It is said that editor Colin Myler asked her to leave the room after her announcement.
South African photographer, Fanie Jason, who has supplied UK tabloids with paparazzi photographs shot in SA, said on Facebook that it was “The end of the road for one of Britain’s oldest and biggest Sunday tabloid The News of The World…The question now is will the Sun survive. It’s not only the newspaper’s journalists that will feel the pinch but freelancers like me”.
Meanwhile, Twitter went ballistic yesterday when the news broke. And it has continued unabated since then.
We just shut down one of the most famous, most profitable newspapers in the world. But there’s nothing suspicious about that. Nothing.
Jane_Anne62 Jane-Anne Hobbs
News of the World: shock, tears and anger as staff fear a conspiracy to protect Rebekah Brooks Media //flpbd.it/2mFC < 200 out of work
MyNews24 The team at News24
Good morning everyone! Our most read story during the night: Drama as single sentence closes News of the World
clivesimpkins Clive Simpkins
@angelo2711 Pretty much. Sad part is many very ethical people trapped in Murdoch Mordor by economic necessity
baldaufji Scott Baldauf
Newspaper ‘sacrificed to save one woman’
jaydedman jay dedman
“Mr. Murdoch and Ms. Brooks have made a strategic error in unleashing hundreds of angry and ruthless reporters with an axe to grind.
lloydkaufman Lloyd Kaufman
I hope Rupert Murdoch goes to jail for hacking people’s voice mail including a 13 year old murder victim.
News of the World maybe dead, but we’re still after Brooks andMurdoch. Expect us. Brooks you may want to quit now.
marktribe Mark Tribe
Murdoch to close News Of The World, editor to be arrested. I say: close Fox, arrest Murdoch and, while we’re at it, release Bradley Manning!
Sky is saying Rebekah has kept job ‘because she could finger Murdoch‘. Possibly the worst image ever. X
OwenJones84 Owen Jones
It’s just sunk in: for the first time in my life, Murdoch‘s power is on the ropes. These are momentous times
Marshajane Marshajane Thompson
johnnypoison Jon James
Oh bugger…Rupert Murdoch just killed NoTW, now what will I use for bog roll??
Booboollay Keith Evans
Read James Murdoch’s full statement:
Want to continue this conversation on The Media Online platforms? Comment on Twitter @MediaTMO or on our Facebook page. Send us your suggestions, comments, contributions or tip-offs via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com