After 168 years in print, the UK’s most widely read newspaper, the News of the World, hit the newsstands for the last time on Sunday.
The decision to close the weekly tabloid was taken last week by its owner, News International, following allegations regarding the hacking of mobile phones by journalists and private investigators who once worked for the paper.
Revelations about the phone hacking grew in seriousness in recent days, causing many companies to cancel advertising contracts with the publication. A police investigation regarding the scandal is underway, with those involved facing possible jail terms.
The front cover of the final edition read: “Thank You & Goodbye – After 168 years, we finally say a sad but very proud farewell to our 7.5m loyal readers.” The headline appeared against a backdrop of various front page scoops printed by the paper over the years.
The editorial inside the final edition read: “We praised high standards, we demanded high standards but, as we are now only too painfully aware, for a period of a few years up to 2006 some who worked for us, or in our name, fell shamefully short of those standards.”
It continued with an apology for the behavior of some of its former employees: “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. No justification for the pain caused to victims, nor for the deep stain it has left on a great history.”
Nicknamed “the News of the Screws” for its widespread coverage of the sex lives of celebrities, the newspaper accounted for four out of every ten newspapers sold in the UK on a Sunday.
According to London’s Metro newspaper, as the News of the World was put to bed for the final time Saturday evening, editor Colin Myler told employees: “I want to pay tribute to this wonderful team of people here who after a very difficult day have produced a wonderful paper. It is a sad day for the staff, this is not where we want to be and not where we deserve to be.”
Myler closed proceedings by saying: “And now in the best traditions of Fleet Street, we are going to the pub.”
Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of News Corporation, which owns News International, is flying to the UK today to try to take control of the unfolding crisis as it threatens to engulf the British arm of his media empire.