'News Of The World' Shuts Down After Scandal
Originally published on Sun July 10, 2011 6:26 pm
GUY RAZ, host: After 168 years of being read aloud at British breakfast tables, the News of the World published its final edition today. Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch shut down the tabloid to try and contain a growing phone tapping scandal. The paper's accused of illegally hacking into the cell phones of thousands of sports stars and newsmakers, including a young murder victim.
Vicki Barker reports from London on the paper's final day.
VICKI BARKER: Tall, well-dressed, slightly stressed and on a quest. A man strides out of a Central London underground station and up to the nearest newspaper stand. He asks vendor Andre Terreblanche if he has any copies of the News of the World.
ANDRE TERREBLANCHE: Sold out about an hour ago, sir. Oh, my god.
BARKER: The South African born Terreblanche ordered double his normal complement of News of the World today. It wasn't enough.
TERREBLANCHE: We opened up here at about seven o'clock. And by about half past eight, it's all gone. And we tried to get more, but there's nowhere, anywhere, except I've got one hidden behind me.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
BARKER: Can I see it?
TERREBLANCHE: Yeah, sure.
BARKER: After decades exposing the seamy secrets of the rich and the famous in three-inch high screaming headlines, the News of the World announced its own demise with four short words.
TERREBLANCHE: It says, Thank You & Goodbye.
BARKER: Killing the paper has not killed the scandal. Managers at parent company News International have handed over files, which appear to confirm the paper paid police officers for confidential information.
Rupert Murdoch flew into London today. He's deep into a bid to take full control of U.K. broadcaster BSkyB. In a BBC interview, opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband called on Prime Minister David Cameron to freeze that process until investigations into the scandal are complete.
ED MILIBAND: We've seen the head of the Press Complaints Commission this week say she was lied to by the News Corporation. And we're expected to believe that he can go ahead with this process, this takeover of BSkyB on the basis of assurances from the News Corporation.
BARKER: But it's more than a single business deal. Increasingly here, there have been public calls for an end to what's perceived as collusion among Britain's powerful, police and politicians, to protect the interests of a media empire.
Greg Dyke, a former head of the BBC, believes that moment has arrived.
GREG DYKE: I mean, we've had 30 years, really, where British politics has been influenced and, in some ways, dominated by the Murdoch operation. And I think that came to an end this week. And I think that's a profound moment.
BARKER: But it's unclear to what extent the main players can or will extricate themselves from a tangle of professional loyalties and personal self-interests. Cameron's former press chief, Andy Coulson, an ex-News of the World editor, was arrested last week in connection with the scandal. In fact, both Cameron and opposition leader Miliband have hired staffers from the Murdoch stable.
Tomorrow, Cameron will meet face-to-face with some of the alleged hacking targets; the actor Hugh Grant, and the parents of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. Cameron said he wants to hear their thoughts about a public inquiry. For NPR News, I'm Vicki Barker in London. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.