Paper acknowledges it failed to live up to the ‘high standards' it demanded of others
Rupert Murdoch flew into London on Sunday to take personal charge of the crisis at his British media group, which is at the centre of a phone-hacking scandal, as the tainted News of the World (NoW) shuffled into history, with a final edition still insisting that it was the “world's greatest newspaper.”
“Thank You & Goodbye,” declared the front page in NoW's trademark mega-size types set against a montage of some of its “best” recent headlines. Inside, it carried a 48-page “souvenir pullout” encapsulating the paper's 168-year history through its most memorable front pages.
For any hint of contrition, its “loyal” readers had to turn to a full-page editorial on Page 3 where, buried under a mound of self-praise, was an acknowledgement that the paper failed to live up to the “high standards” that it demanded of others. “Quite simply we lost our way. Phones were hacked, and for that this newspaper is truly sorry. There is no justification for this appalling wrongdoing,” it said.
The end of Britain's best-selling and Mr. Murdoch's favourite paper came at the end of a torrid week that saw outraged advertisers and readers desert it in droves following allegations that its journalists used illegal practices that included phone-hacking and bribing the police to get stories.
Mr. Murdoch arrived at his company's East London headquarters holding a copy of NoW's final edition amid reports that his chief executive Rebekah Brooks, who he is under mounting pressure to sack, might be questioned by the police in connection with investigations into the scandal. She was its editor during the period to which many of the allegations relate.
There were also calls for Mr. Murdoch's bid for a takeover of satellite broadcaster BSkyB to be blocked until the investigations into the NoW affairs were completed.
There were extraordinary scenes at NoW's offices on Saturday night as its outgoing editor, Colin Myler, led out his staff out a last time after sending the final edition to bed.
“This is not where we want to be and not where we deserve to be,” he said as some of his colleagues hugged and cried.
One journalist said it was a “terribly emotional” final day. “We wanted to leave with our heads held high. Whatever went on years ago was nothing to do with those of us who left yesterday,” he told the BBC.
An extra two million copies of the final edition were printed and it carried no commercial advertisements.