Sunday, 10 July 2011

10 observations about today's News of the World

Rogue politicians, celebrities and crooks will rest easier in their (and their lovers') beds from today. Whatever the rights, wrongs and political positioning, there can be no doubt that the closure of News of the World leaves a massive gap in British journalism. I enjoyed today's final issue which will be added to my burgeoning pile of old newspapers (I will need a bigger study soon). Here are ten random observations about the souvenir edition.

Must Read: Andy Dunn's excellent and passionate sports piece is a compulsory read for all wannabe sports journalists. Here is his response to former BBC director Greg Dyke's comment that NoW hacks 'are not journalists in the way we are.' Dunn writes: 'No, thankfully, we are not. Otherwise we would all be talking about chocolate cake, comparing MCC ties, feathering our own nest, revelling in middle class snobbery, looking down our noses at the punters who pay hard-earned pounds to watch the game. And we would all be ignoring any cancer in cricket, pretending it didn't exist, pocketing pounds for platitudes. We would all have some Kipling-esque boarding school vision of the sporting world. Tell me. When was the last time the Beeb actually broke a sports story of any note?' Sizzling stuff.

Falling on the sword moment: I see a lot of the Twitterati are saying the paper has never apologised. They clearly haven't read it. In the leader on Page 3 it says: 'Quite simply, we lost our way. Phones were hacked, and for that we are truly sorry. There is no justification for this appalling wrong-doing.' Can't get much clearer than that.

Putting the closure in perspective: My old colleague Carole Malone summed it all up passionately in her column: 'It can never be denied that this red top monolith has been a life force in British journalism and - love it or hate it - no politician, no crook, no pervert, no celebrity, no corporation has ever been able to ignore it.' Hard to argue with that.

Best headline: They think it's all over ... it is NOW. Should have thought of that on Thursday night. The Northern Echo did use Apocalypse Now, which comes close.

If only: The claim 'the World's Greatest Newspaper' that adorns today's issue is nicked from the Daily Express, which carries the slogan every day. But which is really the world's greatest? There's only one way to find out. Fight. Richard Desmond v Rupert Murdoch. Who wouldn't buy tickets for that?

The missing decade: What happened to the paper in the 70s? There are special front pages from the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 80s, 90s and the 2000s - but not a single one from the 1970s. The editors then were Cyril Lear, Peter Stephens and Bernard Shrimsley. Maybe it was just a bummer news decade.

Sweetest moment: It was a sad day all round at Wapping yesterday - but using the front page of Question Time's Hugh Grant's indiscretion must have brought a collective smile around the newsroom.

Pedant's corner: There are a few mistakes in the dates and headlines on the souvenir pages - 'Sophie: the Tapes' was in the year 200, 'Crouch beds £800 teen hooker' has the date running over the headline and why is the Robin Cook page out of sequence? It's from 1997 but comes after the 1998 and 1999 pages. (Sorry, once a sub, always a sub). Guess it was put together quickly ... and maybe they were corrected for later editions.

Spare a thought: There are a lot of losers in the closure, not least the journalists. But there are others who will miss out too, such as the people at who gave a free holiday to columnist Ian Hyland and were hoping for a nice positive write-up next month. Oops.

Best crossword puzzle clue: 24 across in the Cryptic crossword is 'Woman stares wildly at calamity'. Answer: 'Disaster'. 

And finally, those who are rubbing their hands with glee at the death of a newspaper, should read Sara Payne's piece on Pages 6 and 7. 'Like all good friends they have stuck with me through the good and the bad and helped me through both.' Whichever way you look at it the News of the World was a paper that got things done. Whether a seven day Sun emerges or not, it will be missed.

You can see all the souvenir pages here.


  1. Pedant's, not pendant's Peter!

    I suppose the BBC might argue that they stayed rather more closely to the FIFA story than most newspapers.

    Different take here from Roy Greenslade

  2. Superb article. Well written and great points. The vultures who circle should all read this. I will put a link to it on my blog.

    Check out my view at

    You might also be interested in my view on the disgrace that is the PCC:

  3. FIFA is a good point Allan (as is pedant ... the need for a second set of eyeballs as important as ever). Caught up with Greenslade. Mmmm. Thanks for the comment Matthew, will catch up with your blog.

  4. I was disappointed there weren't more pre 1980 front pages in the NoW final edition supplement. One has to ask the question though, in the deterioration of the tabloid newspaper from populist newshound to lowest common denominator, how much of a part did News of the World play. Was it a symptom or a cause? It's not a comment, but a question worthy of honest debate?

  5. Pedants and pendants without an apostrophe, I would say.