Well, the News of the World is no more. I can’t say that I will mourn it’s passing other than the fact that it has been in print since 1843 and it always makes me pause to witness the end of an era. I find it interesting that what caused the paper to stumble was not the voyeuristic and illegal ends it went to in order to titillate its readers but that it stepped over a moral boundary. I had begun to think that this country had no moral boundaries left. It wasn’t the taping of phone calls that we objected to, it wasn’t the invasion of privacy of some celebrity, it was the deletion of messages on a missing school girl’s phone and the fact that this activity gave her parents and police hope that she may still have been alive. It was this act that sickened the nation because we all understand the fear and horror of losing a child and we all understand how desperately we would cling onto any tiny hope.
Do I think that News International have done the right thing in shutting down the News of the World. Actually, I don’t. I think this was the most cynical act of “mea culpa”, a dramatic white wash. Who benefits by the closure of the paper? Certainly not the staff. Does the public? Well I don’t think they care one way or the other. Do Milly Dowler’s parents care and all the other people spied on? No, I imagine they would be more satisfied with legal prosecutions. So who does benefit? Well I think News International benefits from the closure. In the past six months alone the News of the Worlds sales figures have been about 7% down on the previous year, month on month. They haven’t been alone in this; the circulation figures for all newspapers are in decline and it’s no real wonder. As we become more online as a nation and satellite television brings us constant up to date news channels, something has to give. Print media is just part of a long line of changes, record shops, DVD hire shops, book shops, libraries; they are all gradually being challenged, threatened and re-moulded.
The Murdochs must have looked at this awful fiasco and realised that there was a way that they might be able to regain some public sympathy and shore up their finances at the same time. They “nobly” threw themselves on their sword, whilst stabbing their employees in the back with the same sword and cut away from a loss making enterprise with a swift clinical detatchment. Cynical? You betcha! I am glad to see that their bid to get the rest of the satellite market has been knocked back though. Looks like they haven’t managed to glide through this untouched.
However, I’m not particularly impressed with the police in the handling of this matter either. To listen to senior officers in the Metropolitan Police Force say we couldn’t pursue these claims because NotW wouldn’t cooperate are incredible. If I commit an illegal act and am accused of that act, then I’m thrilled to discover that if I fail to cooperate with a police investigation that the matter will be dropped. Maybe if I had close working links with the media and the politicians I would stand a better chance of getting away with stuff. It’s not a nice thought but it certainly seems to be the case.
Hogwash to the lot of them!