Did the new editor realise she was unleashing a beast beyond control?

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The Independent Online

To launch a campaign to name and shame sex offenders within weeks of becoming one of the youngest editors of the biggest-selling English language newspaper appeared to be a cold and calculated act.

To launch a campaign to name and shame sex offenders within weeks of becoming one of the youngest editors of the biggest-selling English language newspaper appeared to be a cold and calculated act.

To then ditch it after a fortnight - following a torrent of criticism and personal abuse - also makes it appear gimmicky. It not only makes the exercise seem ill-conceived, in the fickle world of print journalism it could even threaten her career.

Yesterday, talk at the News International plant in Wapping inevitably turned on the judgement and future of the paper's new editor, 31-year-old Rebekah Wade. "This is perceived as very damaging to her because it is her first campaign since becoming editor of News of the World and it has folded after two weeks," said a News International insider. "It is a question of whether Wade has the political nous to do the job. It was questioned from the beginning whether she had the experience for it."

He added: "I don't know whether Les Hinton (the chief executive of News International) made the decision to back track but, in the circumstances, if she had to be told then she must be quite stupid."

Wade has insisted her "For Sarah" campaign was not for some "cheap publicity" but was an "extremely well thought out" campaign. Last weekend others at the paper insisted it was born out of desperation. The implication has been that the former deputy editor of The Sun is out of her depth.

The critics who have forced her to back down include not only Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, the police, and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, but also other newspapers, including tabloids such as the Daily Mail.

When she took over the editor's job, just a few weeks ago, Wade revealed that "I'd like to model myself on a Paul Dacre-style of editor rather than a Piers Morgan kind." Ironically, it was Morgan, the editor of The Mirror, and not Dacre, the Daily Mail's editor who came out and backed her campaign.

Wade has been praised in some circles for starting a public debate on the legal restraints on paedophiles, but she has been mostly defined as irresponsible and, perhaps worse for her career, failing.

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