After a brutal public shredding following reports that journalists hacked into the phones of murder victims and their grieving families, Rupert Murdoch of News Corp. announced Thursday that he’s shutting down British weekly paper The News of the World. The seedy details of the phone-hacking scandal just keep getting more and more disturbing, forcing Murdoch to amputate the gangrenous News of the World limb before it infected the rest of the News Corp. empire.
The announcement of the end of the 168-year-old paper came suddenly on Thursday in a long apologetic letter from Murdoch’s son, James Murdoch, who explained that despite the paper’s illustrious history and the fact that it has more readers than any other newspaper in the English language, the gory details of the phone-hacking scandal have left News International with no other choice but to shut down the paper. The problem, Murdoch explained, wasn’t just the scandal in itself, but how widespread it was and how many journalists were involved.
In 2006, police investigations into the paper’s questionable reporting tactics focused on two journalists who were charged with phone-hacking, both of whom went to jail. When the details surfaced, Andy Coulson, an editor for the paper at the time, resigned, and shortly thereafter it came to light that phone-hacking was a regular practice at the paper.
The recent scandal seems so much more grotesque in light of its victims: a 13-year-old murder victim and the families of British soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the case of 13-year-old Milly Dowler, who was abducted and killed in 2002, News of the World reporters allegedly hacked into the dead girl’s voicemail, deleting certain messages to make room for more, which puzzled investigators and led many to believe she was still alive.
“The good things the News of the World does…have been sullied by behaviour that was wrong. Indeed, if recent allegations are true, it was inhuman and has no place in our Company,” wrote James Murdoch, adding: “The News of the World and News International failed to get to the bottom of repeated wrongdoing that occurred without conscience or legitimate purpose. Wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad and this was not fully understood or adequately pursued.”
Consequently, this Sunday will see the final issue of The News of the World. The issue will have no advertisements (since many advertisers fled The News of the World and even News Corp. when the scandal first broke), and Murdoch says that all revenue from the final issue will be donated to “good causes.”
News Corp. stock took a dive on July 6, dropping to a mid-day low of $17.12 before closing out at $17.47, compared to July 5, when News Corp. closed the day at $18.13.
Image source: guim.co.uk