Write Like No One's Watching: News of the World to close

Thursday, 7 July 2011

News of the World to close


I'm sat here on the sofa with my laptop on my lap, touch-typing with my eyes glued to my television. The 168 year-old newspaper, the News of the World, is to close after damaging allegations against the title.

It is, sorry, was the biggest selling paper in the UK; selling approximately 2.8 million copies a week. The closure comes after the paper was accused of hacking Milly Dowler's voicemail in March of 2002. Milly went missing on 21st March 2002 and was found dead six months later. Her killer, Levi Bellfield, was convicted of Milly's murder on 23rd June 2011.

The News of the World hired a private investigator to intercept voicemail messages left by the frantic friends and family of Milly upon her disappearance and recording every, single world. As the voicemail box filled up and would no long accept new messages, the paper intervened and deleted earlier messages, desperate for more. This not only gave false hope to family members and friends, as they were able to get through again, but it interfered with a police investigation; potentially destroying vital evidence.

This isn't all. But you all know this, if you have a shred of intelligence and actually read, listen to or watch the news.

Now the News of the World's parent company News International, part of Rupert Murdoch's media empire, has made the decision to close a newspaper, which has been serving us, rightly or wrongly, for 168 years.

As a journalist, I felt like I had to write something. Anything.

This decision is quite clearly not an act of contrition, but a tactical move. There's no shame. There's no remorse. This is about power, profit and success.The newspaper, and it's some 200 journalists, has taken the fall for certain individuals' mistakes.

Former editor of the paper, and now Chief Executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks had 'reportedly' nothing to do with this, claiming to be away on holiday at the time.

Let me tell you this, as an Editor of a b2b magazine, and Group Editor of two others, you ALWAYS know what is going on when it concerns your publications. I can't go away on holiday without checking my emails, talking to my colleagues and keeping an eye on the grand scheme of things. You never take your eye off the ball. Never. Least not if you're a decent journalist.

This is where she falls at fault. She's either a spineless coward or a useless excuse of an editor. If she turned a blind eye. If she had no clue. If she orchestrated the entire act. She's at fault.

Call it what you will, but the News of the World is, until Sunday, the UK's biggest selling newspaper. Whether to your fancy or not, it's clearly popular for a reason. There's a paper for every party, as they say, and to close one of them is a true shame. This newspaper has helped to fight crime, unearthed important news, exposed wrong-doings and even led the way at times, dare I admit it.

Nobody senior at this organisation has taken responsibility for what has happened. Closing the newspaper and attempting to sweep this under the carpet will not satisfy the public. It won't make it better.

When you make that decision, you take an oath, perhaps not as serious as the Hippocratic oath, we don't save lives first-hand here, but we do make a difference. We have a responsibility for what we do. We take the news to the public, to our industries, to our readers. We find news. We search for it. We make a difference. Sometimes for good and for bad.

News is found. Not created.

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