Reporters shocked by announcement

THE announcement that the News of the World will close after this weekend was greeted with shock and amazement by journalists at News International.

A senior News of the World journalist told Sky News that many reporters are in tears and that Colin Myler, the News of the World’s Editor, is “furious”. There is mass anger in news room directed at Rebekah Brooks and she was verbally abused.

Brooks was reported to have told staff at a tearful meeting that “The Guardian newspaper were out to get us, and they got us”.

David Wooding, political editor of the News of the World, told the BBC: “We came in to clean this place up. All these decent hardworking journalists are carrying the can.

“I’m horrified by what happened. It’s wrong, wrong, wrong. I can’t say anything in defence of what happened in the News of the World.

“I’ve never been out of work in my life. And now this has happened it’s quite a shock, I’m quite badly shaken by it.

“I don’t think they could have done any more to cleanse the News of the World. They have taken the ultimate sanction, they have removed it from the face of the earth.”

Staff at the publisher’s other newspapers received the statement by chairman James Murdoch and gasps were heard across the newsrooms at Wapping as they reached the line: “This Sunday will be the last issue of the News of the World.”

One member of staff at The Times said: “It took a few minutes for everyone to read through the statement.

“There was a ‘fucking hell’ from the first person who read it.

“Then there were lots of gasps and general amazement. Everyone is talking about it.

“People are still astonished and a bit worried.”

Journalists at The Sun, the Sunday tabloid’s sister paper, wondered what impact the closure would have on them.

One journalist said: “Everyone here is shocked and in disbelief. It’s very sad that the paper is closing.

“We’re not sure what this means for us yet.”

World history

UNTIL the name became sullied beyond repair, the News of the World was known for years of hard-hitting investigations, exposures of wrongdoing, campaigning — and quite a bit of celebrity gossip.

The paper prided itself on finding jaw-dropping exclusives, whether it be TV stars using drugs or corruption at the highest level. Numerous stings involved the infamous “fake sheikh”.

At the British Press Awards earlier this year, it claimed the scoop of the year after uncovering alleged match-fixing involving Pakistan international cricketers.

The populist approach has been there since the paper’s early days when it was established in 1843. The 3p cover price was aimed at capturing a mass market, along with the salaciously detailed descriptions of court cases and police investigations which became its stock in trade.

But the low cost, which undercut rivals considerably, meant newsagents were initially reluctant to handle it.

In 1891, the title was sold by the Bell family to Lascelles Carr, the owner of the Western Mail, whose nephew Emsley enjoyed a 50-year stint as editor.

He proved to be doing an effective job as circulation built consistently in the early part of the 20th century. It hit two million readers by 1912 — from the 12,000 who bought the title during its first year — doubled to four million by the time of the Second World War and more than doubled again by 1950 to almost 8.5 million.

In the 1960s, the paper’s photo of the naked Christine Keeler during the Profumo affair continues to be hugely familiar, and is one of the abiding images of that decade.

Rupert Murdoch took control of the paper in 1969, his first Fleet Street title, beating the approaches of rival publisher Robert Maxwell. The News of the World adopted its now familiar tabloid format in 1984, after well over a century as a broadsheet.

In the last decade or so, the paper has experienced its share of triumphs and misfires.

It rallied against paedophiles in 2000 following the murder of Sarah Payne, naming and shaming many. But the practice led to mobs gathering outside — and attacking — the homes of many, some of whom were wrongly identified. The “Sarah’s law” campaign aimed to give the public access to the sex offenders’ register.

Notable exposés have included the revelation that TV presenter Richard Bacon had used cocaine, which led to him being axed from Blue Peter and led to an apology to young viewers from then children’s TV boss at the BBC, Lorraine Heggessey. Actor John Alford, then a star of ITV’s long-running drama London’s Burning, was also pictured using drugs.

But the paper’s stories have not gone unchallenged. Formula 1 boss Max Mosley was filmed by the paper taking part in role-playing games with prostitutes in 2008, later judged by the courts to be a breach of his privacy.

The paper’s phone-hacking woes surfaced in 2006 when royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were arrested, with both jailed the following year. Editor Andy Coulson resigned after assuming “ultimate responsibility”.

The scandal continued to haunt the paper since. As the revelations grew, the will to keep the 168-year-old News of the World going simply buckled.

Picture: Two members of News International staff put their arms round each other at a pub near the News of the World offices in Wapping yesterday. Picture: PA

More in this section


Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox