NOTW journalists shocked and amazed by closure of paper
Thursday 07 July 2011
The announcement that the News of the World will close after this weekend was greeted with shock and amazement by journalists at News International today.
Staff at the publisher's other newspapers received the statement by chairman James Murdoch and gasps were heard across the newsrooms at Wapping as they reached the line: "This Sunday will be the last issue of the News of the World."
The first person at The Times to read it swore out loud.
One member of staff said: "It took a few minutes for everyone to read through the statement.
"There was a 'f****** hell' from the first person who read it.
"Then there were lots of gasps and general amazement. Everyone is talking about it.
"People are still astonished and a bit worried."
Journalists at The Sun, the Sunday tabloid's sister paper, wondered what impact the closure would have on them.
One journalist said: "Everyone here is shocked and in disbelief. It's very sad that the paper is closing.
"We're not sure what this means for us yet."
Times editor James Harding addressed the newspaper's staff at 5.15pm, telling them: "The best answer we can give to what is happening around us is to be judged by the quality of our journalism."
He told them he had been informed of the decision at 4pm, one Times reporter said.
Another said: "He told us we should continue to be proud of being Times journalists and maintaining our high standards and that he didn't know any more than us."
Assistant news editor Lech Mintowt-Czyz tweeted: "Lots of people gathered outside the office. Smoking or talking to their families on their mobiles. Shock in their eyes."
One man said he felt "frankly terrible" as he left the Wapping site, while a Sunday Times employee added: "It's a pretty tense atmosphere in there.
"There are a lot of people worried."
News of the World associate editor David Wooding, who joined the newspaper 18 months ago, said: "When I went up into the editorial floor everybody was standing around looking dazed as if a nuclear bomb had just hit.
"We had been saying all week 'how can it get any worse?"'
He added: "Everybody who works on the News of the World is proud to work there.
"We are a campaign newspaper. Everybody who works there is blemish free."
Mr Wooding said the people associated with phone hacking were "driven out five years ago". He said he did not know why the "commercial decision" was made despite the newspaper's large circulation.
"Some people are crying and they are upset," he added.
Dan Wootton, News of the World showbiz editor, said he and his colleagues were "devastated" and that some had been in tears.
But he dismissed rumours that staff were baying for blood.
"There were these reports about a lynch mob mentality in the news room," he said. "That is just rubbish and I think it is quite despicable that these things have been said.
"There is devastation and fear. It is grief for the newspaper, that is what it is. It's not anger, it's grief.
"We were devastated. There were tears, and I know from a personal level we had huge sympathy for (News International chief executive) Rebekah Brooks delivering that news."
The sadness among the journalists was at "the fact that our newspaper - which is loved by seven million readers a week and still on Sunday also actually went up - that this is coming to an end," he said.
The paper had changed in recent years, he insisted.
"For the last four years we have delivered a quality newspaper, a newspaper that bears no resemblance to the newspaper that I have been reading about in the press this week," he said.
Features editor at the newspaper Jules Stenson told Sky News that staff showed "quiet pride" rather than "mob anger" when the announcement was made.
"There was shock, bewilderment, there were a few gasps, there were lots of tears from the staff," he said. "It's been reported that there was a lynch mob mentality which is completely untrue, there was none of that.
"There was bewilderment, there was disappointment but there wasn't any kind of mob anger, quite the contrary. There was a lot of quiet pride from a team of brilliant journalists, award winning journalists, who are very proud of the product and very proud of the 168-year history of the News of the World."
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