So Britain’s biggest-selling sunday paper, the News of the World, comes to a close today with four simple words: “Thank you and Goodbye”.
Notice the lack of any apology.
But there might well be a reason for that. To apologise on the front cover of the final issue would be to belittle the hundreds of journalists that do (and have) written for the paper in an entirely proper, legal way. A few bad eggs here have really spoiled the cake.
Indeed, one should not look at a journalist’s CV and vomit if they read the words “Writer – News of the World” emblazoned proudly at the top of a list of relevant employment. The weekly – which has always been seen as the Sunday edition of it’s sister paper, The Sun – has had it’s fair share of solid, editorial scoops.
The ‘fake sheikh’ method of exposing crimes – last year’s cricketing fiasco, regarding the illegal spread betting involved in test matches with Pakistan, brought to light many of the issues in the game previously unreported – became hugely popular and influential in the red tops. Similarly, the NOTW also put snooker player John Higgins in the spotlight after he allegedly accepted a bribe to throw a match in the newspaper’s presence.
And again, the paper was also a huge figure in the backing (and introduction of) ‘Sarah’s Law’ to battle sex offenders and paedophiles. So it’s not all been bad.
The News of the World also holds a soft spot in my heart because red tops played a major part in my childhood, and growing up with the NOTW and The Sun in the house meant that these were the newspapers I read most. It was this style of celebrity stalking tabloid journalism that I know best. Nothing relaxes me more after a long day than a large glass of coca cola and a good copy of The Sun, no matter how much I know I should have probably picked up The Guardian instead.
Pouncing on my Dad when he got back from work on a Sunday and stealing the NOTW from his hands before he’d even sat down was one of my favourite parts of the week. Bigger than The Sun, there was plenty to get stuck into and read, from the excellent sports coverage to the agony aunt columns (always fun), and the football pull-out, Score, is still one of the best weekly pull-outs in any newspaper in the country.
So it is with some sadness that I will pop down to One Stop in the morning to grab this final edition – issue #8,674. Obviously, the paper will be replaced with, presumably, “The Sun on Sunday”, which will continue in very much the same vein one would assume – let’s hope without breaking the law this time.
Because, no matter how much I enjoyed the paper, or how bad I feel for the hundreds of innocent journalists, editors, and designers now out of a job, cutting the paper was the only decent, humane thing to do.
Those involved in the dark arts of phone hacking will hopefully be found out, so too the superiors who turned a blind eye, and jailed for a decent length of time. There is no excuse for breaking the law in such a violent and putrid manner – deliberately hacking into people’s phones to gain information is not journalism in any sense or form – and when you think about the horrific circumstances the hacking took place in, such as those of the Milly Dowler murder, you’d hope to see as many heads on sticks outside the News International building as possible.
There is a good case that the paper could have potentially stayed open if each and every single law breaker could be found out.
But can you trust anyone these days, NOTW or not?
Does any average member of the public really believe that Rebekah Brooks or Andy Coulson had no knowledge of the phone hacking under their time as editor (or, in Brook’s case, Chief Executive)?
As much as it hurts to lose one of Britain’s best-loved institutions – and 168 years is quite the legacy – in this case the only way to get rid of the virus was to amputate the limb.
Here’s hoping that The Sun on Sunday, should it be called that, can prove to be as succesful as the NOTW has been in providing the 7.5million-strong readership with good couple of hours reading material each week.
New of the World: It Will be Missed. But Good Riddance to Bad Practice.