James Robinson of The Guardian:
Rupert Murdoch acted with characteristic ruthlessness by closing theNews of the World, Britain’s best-selling Sunday newspaper, in a desperate attempt to limit the political and commercial fallout from the phone-hacking affair engulfing his media empire.
Murdoch’s son James, who runs his UK titles, told the paper’s 200 staff that Sunday’s edition of the paper, which sells 2.6m copies a week, would be its last, ending the 168-year history of the title his father bought in 1969, a purchase that introduced him to the British public for the first time. The last News of the World will carry no commercial advertising.
Mark Lewis, the solicitor for Milly Dowler’s family, said: “People are losing their jobs in order to sacrifice themselves to save the real perpetrators … lots of good individuals have lost their jobs or will lose their jobs and the people who should have fallen on their swords are still there.”
On the one hand, I’m glad there’s action happening. On the other hand, sacking the entire company over the sins of an unidentified number of them doesn’t seem right at all.
The British justice system is getting involved in a way that doesn’t involve taking bribes, which is good. Amelia Hill in another piece for The Guardian:
Andy Coulson has been told by police that he will be arrested on Friday morning over suspicions that he knew about, or had direct involvement in, the hacking of mobile phones during his editorship of the News of the World.
The Guardian understands that a second arrest is also to be made in the next few days of a former senior journalist at the paper.
Coulson, who resigned as David Cameron’s director of communications in January, was contacted on Thursday by detectives and asked to present himself at a police station in central London on Friday, where he will be told that he will be formally questioned under suspicion of involvement in hacking.
Nothing yet appears to be happening to Rebekah Brooks, who was an editor of News of the World while this was going down and is now an executive of Murdoch’s News International.
And here’s some fodder for the paranoia file from MSNBC and the AP:
Media analysts said the decision to close the newspaper appears to be a strategy to smooth the way for Murdoch’s plan to buy the 60 percent or so of British Sky Broadcasting that his media empire does not already own. The U.K. government is expected to make its final decision on the proposed deal by September.