News of the World Is No More

Telephone hacking scandal brings down British tabloid, threatens Murdoch empire.

July 9, 2011, 7:40 PM

July 9, 2011— -- In London, issues of News of the World are rolling hot off the presses for the last time, the paper shuttered as a result of a hacking scandal that extends to the British government.

The newspaper that prided itself on being the first to break a story, even if it was rooted in salacious suspicion, is shutting down after 168 years, leaving its 270 person staff without jobs.

Dan Wootton, the Showbiz editor of News of the World, lamented the paper's demise.

"I am so proud of my colleagues who have continued this week in absolutely trying and very personally and professionally difficult circumstances in such a professional manner," he said.

A statement on the paper's website blamed the demise on staff from previous years, apparently trying to distance current employees from the scandal.

"We praised high standards, we demanded high standards but, as we are now only too painfully aware, for a period of a few years up to 2006 some who worked for us, or in our name, fell shamefully short of those standards," the statement said. "Quite simply, we lost our way. Phones were hacked, and for that this newspaper is truly sorry."

While News of the World staff may be losing their jobs, one person isn't -- Rebekah Brooks, a chief executive for News Corporation, the parent company of News of the World who was a former editor during the time of the alleged phone hackings.

Calls for Brooks' dismissal abound but she isn't focused on that and neither is News Corporation Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch. He released a statement today saying that he has total support for Brooks.

"We already apologized," he said. "We've been let down by people ... the paper let down its readers."

Brooks, despite suspicions of her own involvement, said that the truth will come out.

"Eventually it will come out why things went wrong and who was responsible and that will be another very difficult moment in this company's history," she said.

Though News of the World is just one of Murdoch's territories, it may be the one that could threaten his ever-growing empire.

Murdoch is the man whose endorsements were sought after by prime ministers and whose media arm stretched across the Atlantic. Now with the onslaught of evidence against his paper and top editors, his focus is more on the future than the past.

He is expected to fly into London Sunday as he scrambles to salvage his company's bid for the satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting. But the mounting evidence of widespread involvement in the scandal that brought down News of the World could be too much for even Murdoch to overcome.

Already, former News of the World editor Andy Coulson and former royal editor Clive Goodman were arrested on charges related to the paper's hacking scandal.

Coulson, 43, was arrested on charges of corruption and conspiring to intercept communications, while Goodman, 53, was arrested on suspicion of corruption. An unidentified 63-year-old man was also arrested in relation to the crimes. All three men have been released on bail until October.

Coulson broke his silence and commented on News of the World's closing, saying that this was "a very sad day for the News of the World and more importantly for the staff."

These arrests are just the tip of the iceberg in the growing allegations against News Corp., including reports that News of the World hacked into politicians' and celebrities' voicemail and allegedly hacked into families' voicemails of Britain's fallen soldiers.

According to a report in the Guardian, millions of emails may have been deleted, though a News International spokeswoman called the rival newspaper's report "rubbish."

But these allegations highlight an even more profound and disturbing connection; the relationship between Murdoch and the U.K. government. Coulson served as Prime Minister David Cameron's director of communications, resigning in January as allegations of phone hacking under his editorship increased.

Now Murdoch is depending on the British government to approve his acquisition of British Sky Broadcasting, a move the prime minister may now be hesitant to make. Even in trying to distance himself from the now disgraced Coulson and Murdoch himself, Cameron admitted the relationship between press and politicians.

"The truth is, we've all been in this together," Cameron said.

On Friday, Cameron revealed details of new inquiries into the paper, examining why the police investigation failed so "abysmally" and also examining the culture and ethics of the paper.

According to a BBC News Report, Ofcom, a British media regulator, is considering whether News Corporation would make a "fit and proper owner" of British Sky Broadcasting.

News of the World may be heading to its grave, but the scandal is still very much alive.

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