You know it’s a big deal when Britain’s largest selling tabloid is shut down overnight. Closed. Full stop.
The News of the World, which sells about 2.6 million copies every week, will go to print for the last time on Sunday. It’s been brought down by one of the most wide-ranging scandals in British history. According to some it’s the scandal that should be ‘on the front page of every newspaper in the world’. A scandal not just of the media industry but of the political spheres on both sides. James Murdoch released a statement today [July 7, 2011] saying the newspaper had failed in its duty to keep checks on itself and that ‘a few wrongdoers’ had turned a good newsroom bad. He said he had authorised out of court payments to phone hacking victims and now realised ‘this was wrong’.
As the sights are aimed at senior News executives, 500 journalists and staff lose their jobs in the closing sacrifice of the 168-year-old paper.
UPDATE: Check out this EXTRAORDINARY interview with a former NOTW ‘journalist’ who talks freely about all the phones he tapped – including Kylie’s, Princess Diana’s and Hugh Grant’s:
Let’s put the pieces of this together.
What is phone hacking exactly?
Phone hacking basically means somebody with the right know-how (in this case, private investigators) can intercept voicemail messages of private mobile phones. Yours, if they really wanted to. Sienna Miller’s phone was hacked. In this scandal News of the World evidently used phone hacks of a means of gaining access to private conversations and messages.
When did this scandal begin?
This all dates back to 2006 when the newspaper’s Royals Editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glen Mulcaire were arrested, charged and imprisoned for taking out illegal phone hacks on members of the royal family. At the time the paper’s management said this was a case of a journalist ‘gone rogue’ and scarcely any more of the matter was aired. Obviously, doubts continued. So, it seems, did the phone hacking.
What has happened since then?
The lid was blown off a cover-up of immense proportions. Fresh evidence was brought to London’s Metropolitan Police in February this year which led them to believe – as some had been saying in the intervening years – that News of the World was presiding over one of the largest breaches of personal privacy in recorded history. Not just that it had ‘rogue’ reporters, but that it knew about, commissioned and paid for phone hacks on an unprecedented scale.