My local newsagent opens at 6 am. By 7.30 they had sold all copies of News of the World last issue. Fortunately WHSmith at the Oxford railway station had ordered a good stack of the tabloid’s farewell. Apparently all of us Guardian-reading liberals who live around here had decided to show our contempt by buying the despicable red-top. (At least the proceedings of this last one go to charity.)
For me, this was the first and last time I ever bought it. I’ve read it at the local pub, for sure, but would never buy anything else but the Observer, Indy, or the Times on a Sunday. But how could I not buy it today? I am a news junkie, and this has been all that’s been on the news for the past few days.
The last issue is all about making the case of News of the World being “the world’s greatest newspaper” during its 168-year history. There’s a souvenir pullout section of old front pages starting from 1910 and ending at 5th of June this year when the paper revealed footballer Ryan Giggs’s affair with his brother’s wife. For sex scandals of sportsmen is what the paper is best known for, but in the farewell issue it tries to portray itself as a watchdog of power and a champion of democracy. Granted, it has done some proper investigations in the past, but the sordid phonehacking affair has tainted the title badly.
Interestingly, News of the World takes a stand for the Press Complaints Commission in its last leader:
“Self-regulation does work. But the current make-up of the PCC doesn’t. It needs more powers and more resources. We do not need government legislation. That would be a disaster for our democracy and for a free Press.”
It is very fitting that the phonehacking story came out as a result of the relentless work of the Guardian’s investigative reporter Nick Davies, who carried on digging even after the police refused to open up the case for a second look. Before Nick Davies broke the story on murder victim Milly Dowler’s phone being hacked, many people discarded the whole story as an insignificant Guardian attack on the red-top.
In case you’ve missed it, you should also read the remarkable work of the unlikely investigative journalist, Hugh Grant, on the New Statesman. Milly Dowler is mentioned in this story as well.
One can only hope this scandal will not be buried with News of the World. Murdoch’s bid for BSkyB has to stopped. And the headline I and probably the tabloid’s innocent, now unemployed staff are waiting for is one that has the words “Rebekah Brooks” and “knew all about it” in it.