July 12, 2011

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News of the World, RIP

I couldn’t bring myself to buy a copy of last Sunday’s final edition of the News of the World, but here for the record is its front page. Apparently it included just a few paragraphs about the phone-hacking scandal that brought about its demise; otherwise it was a look back at the many stories, some important, it has broken over the years.

Like most people I’m relishing seeing Murdoch’s corporation wobble and cheer at the thought it might yet come crashing down. But I also share Peter Wilby’s concerns expressed in his excellent Guardian piece yesterday. The NotW at its best had a role to play in checking those in power. In classic ‘Animal Farm’ style it latterly mislaid that role and started abusing power itself. It may be a victim of its own excesses but who/what will assume that previous role?

The other thing to note is that the hugely successful NotW effectively subsidised Murdochs loss-making Times and Sunday Times newspapers. Will the Times go next? If it gets sold who would buy it?

While we await further twists I recommend a read of Adam Curtis’ excellent summary of Murdoch’s 1968 arrival in the UK to buy his first media property. Which was, of course, a newspaper called the News of the World. It’s the start of the current story in every sense.

 

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