Rupert Murdoch's decision to close the 168-year-old News of the World certainly takes one's breath away. For a moment one is tempted to marvel at the media tycoon's decisiveness. Despite inexorably losing sales over the past couple of decades, the title is still Britain's highest-selling newspaper, and profitable. Shutting it seems a very big deal indeed. But it actually isn't – except for those who will lose their jobs.
The paper's closure is designed to persuade us that News International is at long last taking the phone hacking scandal seriously, and that Murdoch should be allowed to proceed with the acquisition of the whole of BSkyB. We would do better to ask ourselves: what exactly has changed? It is a fair bet that in a few weeks, News International will launch a paper called The Sun on Sunday, appealing to the same readers. The internet domain name for such a title was registered by persons unknown only two days ago.
What looks like an act of commercial self-sacrifice may turn out to be no more than an inconvenience to the company. News International's decision to give all the revenues of next Sunday's final issue to "good causes" is piece of calculated piety intended to make it appear caring.
An institution has been publicly punished while the people responsible for what happened continue to escape retribution. The victims are those journalists working for the paper who won't be employed by The Sun on Sunday. Most of these were not working for the News of the World when phone hacking was endemic.
Temporarily closing a newspaper should not divert our attention from the main culprits. This is a desperate ploy by a dysfunctional company.Reuse content