They think it's all over... it is NotW

Well since the rest of the UK is gleefully heaping scorn upon the News of the World I feel it would be remiss of me not to do that very British thing of hopping onto the proverbial bandwagon. And I'm even cheeky enough to simultaneously criticise their journalism and steal their (admittedly smart) headline.


I must however warn any readers foaming at the mouth with NotW-induced rage that this blog post is not going to be a diatribe against the paper. I won't be raking its ashes and calling it a disgrace - or at least not ad nauseum. In fact let's get it out of the way early on: NotW was a crap paper, and its actions were 100% immoral. Indeed, it is a disgrace.


That said, I am heartily sick of reading editorial after editorial ranting aimlessly about it. The Guardian has been positively ejaculating with joy all month, writing article after article to stir things up, few of which tell us anything particularly new about the story. And in common with most of the rest of Britain I was very nearly reunited with my lunch when Cameron said - with astonishing hypocrisy - that this would 'end on my watch'. You're kidding, right?


NotW walked a nauseating line between trashy gossip rag and political battleground. Scandal was its fuel, and moral indignance its fire. Its justification however, was market demand. Because lest we forget, it was the nation's biggest selling Sunday paper. Like it or not, we are a nation of curtain-twitching, cellulite-spotting, rubber-necking misanthropes. Whilst I accept that a sizeable percentage of the UK has no interest in who some overpaid footballer is shagging, the overwhelming majority is salivating at this titillating promise of moral slobbery. We, the Outraged Public, love having the chance to tut loudly and feel - for just a few moments - entirely superior to those people who earn more than we do but do nothing to deserve it.


Do you remember when you were a kid, and someone acted out in class? The second your teacher spotted it, all the little faces turned to stare at the offender and raised a chorus of "Ohhhhhh..... ohhhh.... ohhhhh" that continued like a motor. It was kid language for "you're fucked now" and it was actually subtler than most of the Guardian's NotW coverage.


So let us tut, by all means, but let us also remember that the NotW is in many ways the poster boy for British media today. You can bet your boots that more revelations will come to light in the next few weeks revealing that - quelle surprise - other newspapers have been guilty of highly suspect and underhand journalistic practices such as phone hacking.

I sincerely hope that those slinging the most mud have made 100% sure that their own house is spotlessly clean.


Perhaps the saddest thing to come from all this is the damage to the careers of the journalists involved. Many of the staff at NotW will be entirely innocent of any wrongdoing but now pay the price for executive mismanagement. I don't believe for one second that Rebekah Brooks knew nothing of the hacking ("I was on holiday at the time" is a laughably transparent defence) and she must shoulder the weight of responsibility.


That said however, I can’t help bit squirm with discomfort as the papers characterise her like Eve in the Garden of Eden – “a ruthless, charming super-schmoozer” according to the Guardian, while The Independent claim NotW was “sacrificed to save one woman.” The flame-haired temptress that brought down a publishing empire. Yeah right.


Let us point the finger of blame at Mulcare, at Coulson, at Brooks, at bent coppers and at sycophantic politicians. But let us also take this as an opportunity to look long and hard at the media industry in general, through a thorough and unbiased review. Let's scrutinise an industry so cut-throat that it goes to enormous and unthinkable lengths to stay ahead of the game. Then let us ask ourselves why they do this, and take an extra second before we hand over 10p to read about Kate Moss's powdered nose. Because the rotten truth is: we are all to blame.




ps. I'm sorry Guardian. You're actually my favourite paper and due credit should be given for the scoop of the year. But enough now, mkay?

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Tags: media, news of the world, newspapers, nicola more, phone hacking, rebekah brookes

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Comment by Espen Brunborg on July 19, 2011 at 11:22

With all do respect, Dr Sutherland, any newspaper – or broadcaster – that blatantly and systematically breaks the law to get their stories should be put down for good. The real issue here isn't how the rest of the media attacked the downed leader, but by what means the biggest selling paper in the UK got to where they were. 


Are we poorer for losing a totally corrupt, criminal publication? Not in the slightest. 

Comment by Dr John Sutherland on July 19, 2011 at 11:13

Jack London in The Call of The Wild narrated how a pack of dogs kills the leader once he is downed by a new leader.  The UK press are as sickeningly animalistic as that.  TNotW was a good investigative paper, the highest selling in the UK.  And we have lost it.  It didn't do anything that every other journalistic service is also doing - did it?


There is a lot of stone-throwing to death by people who by the same criteria deserve the same thing.  I am sickened by the endless self-righteousness of the Gruoniard and its supporters.  We are all poorer by the loss of TNotW IMHO.

Comment by Emlyn Firth on July 13, 2011 at 18:12

The thing for me is, it's not "all over", not by a long stretch. We know that the NotW shutting was a strategic move and that The Sun still looms large. What's great is that the public, and political tide against Murdoch and his empires have genuinely – I think – turned. The House of Commons debate and subsequent BskyB bid climbdown is stage 2. But there needs to be a sustained effort to have real long-term effect on Murdoch's grip here – because on the surface not much has changed. The Guardian and others need to keep this all front of mind somehow.


One thing I did wonder, as an aside, is if the Government may be stealthily finding ways to repress freedom of speech on the back of this. I'd be interested to hear liberal media watchers takes on this, rather than just [deserved] triumphalism. 

Comment by Espen Brunborg on July 12, 2011 at 16:37

Couldn't agree more – and yeah, you're all to blame. Ok, maybe I'm to blame too. I never bought a single copy of NotW, but I did once sign up to something called MySpace.


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