Inside the last day of The News Of The World
Sunday 10 July 2011
Yesterday I was present as history was made. I was just one small part of a big company and many people had a lot more to lose than me, but this is my perspective.
When the news broke last Thursday that our paper was no more I felt numb. A large part of me refused to accept it. Days later as I made my way to headquarters for the last time, this feeling still hadn’t left me. How could Britain’s biggest newspaper and everything so many people had worked on be gone?
I choked back tears and felt absolutely ridiculous for getting so worked up over a tabloid newspaper. Pull yourself together, nobody died.
Arriving at the office, News International had posted security to the door of our second floor offices, ostensibly to keep out people who shouldn’t be there. But the real message to me was "Don't try anything".
The covers of past issues that had lined the entrance corridor had been ripped down, a reminder of our 168 years of history. A history being torn apart. The office was to become a crime scene and such trappings were no longer important. We carried on, locked out of webmail accounts, unable to access USB drives or even attach files to emails sent outside of the company.
A pathetic offering was made: we received one computer which could access essential webmail accounts, which staff were expected to queue for and naturally was hogged by newsroom bigwigs. IT staff watched vigilantly over us in our final hours, ensuring nobody attempted to make off with important files or equipment.
It was the final insult from Murdoch. As right-minded people, we had no intention of stealing anything from this company. We’re not criminals and never have been. Our revenge would be showing the nation that despite losing everything, being made scapegoats for the crimes of others and being branded "toxic" to save an old man’s empire, we would walk out of Wapping with our heads high.
We knew we would never have to fear a 6am surprise visit from plod. Ultimately the good hacks will be vindicated. With our hands tied by these restrictions we carried on, there was no obligation on any of us to be there, we would still be paid but we owed it to ourselves and our readers to leave a final statement. We had to say we were here and we mattered.
Every piece of work completed brought us one step closer to the end and there were constant reminders of how big the loss of this paper would be. The smallest mundanities of work became deep signifiers of the end.
The weight of history was overwhelming as staff gathered to watch as Colin Myler put put the final page to bed, ‘This is like the fall of the Berlin wall,’ an eager young hack exclaimed.
As a lover of tabloids the best moment of my life was when I saw my name on the front page of a redtop. Things will never be the same now. Tabloids offered so much potential to a young hack eager to use hidden cameras, dig dirt on nasty people and bring comfort to the afflicted.
The NoTW didn’t always do that I will concede, I was often disappointed when the paper splashed again on a Cheryl Cole story, suspecting proper news had probably been spiked.
But when we got it right with a splash like the cricket match fixing scandal or any other elaborate scoop that only the Screws could dig up, I would remember why it was all worth it.
After the last mark was made Colin climbed up on a table and declared that we would march with dignity out to the waiting media, he could have asked us to march anywhere and we would. He was a great leader.
Staff filed out, many openly crying now, as Colin behind stayed to bang us out, an old fleet street tradition.
We filled the foyer, looking up at the offices of the Sun, the Times and Sunday Times, waiting for Colin. We erupted in joy, clapping and cheering, venting a week of heartache. Our colleagues in the other papers slammed the glass so hard I thought it would break.
My heart was beating through my chest, this really was history. Colin appeared and we lined up behind him, marched out the doors and never looked back. Betrayed by a company we can never trust again.
Later that night while staff drowned their sorrow, cursed the Guardian and declared their undying love for each other I sneaked back into the office.
Scores of desks lay empty, TV screens beemed images of our final march, it was over. I feared that this was not the end of one newspaper’s scandal but the beginning of the end of newspapers.
The View From The Streets
Committed News of the World (NOTW) readers and those rubber-necking at the scene of the biggest car crash in UK media history were in reflective mood as they picked up the 8,674th, and last, edition of the paper in Tottenham this morning. With the NOTW post mortem under way, and the fall out from the hacking scandal building, avid NOTW followers and the curious were equally keen to get their hands on the souvenir issue.
Civil servant Sarah Pitkin said: “It is sad. It has been around for a long time and a lot of people have lost their jobs. They are paying the price because of a few people but it got to a point where the paper affected people differently. It was known for wrongdoing rather than for the fun, joy and gossip. I haven't bought the paper for a long time but I had to buy the last one today.”
Gladys Johnson, 54, a catering assistant at the YMCA, said she would miss her weekly NOTW fix.
“This is the paper I read because it always tells the truth,” she said. “I just feel it is unfair what they have done. The paper is closing for what for what some other people have done. I’m not sure what I’m going to read now.”
Alan Impey, a 54-year-old supervisor at the Probation Office said the stories about Miller Dowler’s phone being targeted “crossed the line". But, he said: “To be honest I just flicked through it anyway. I didn’t take everything they said as true. They will just bring out another paper in a few weeks.”
Fitness instructor Kerrie Foster, 29, said: “I don't care about the celebrities but when I heard about the little girls' who died in Soham I realised it went too far. It was inhumane."
“[Rebekah Brooks] must have known what was going on to get her paper selling and get the next story. Next week I will be buying Star [Daily Star Sunday] and The People.”
Jerry Crow, a 51-year-old civil servant, said: “I think the management at the paper let it go over the last 10 years or so. [It closing] does not bother me too much. I used to flick through. I used to read it if I was at someone's house but I won't miss it at all. I didn’t buy it today. I usually read a selection of the broadsheets.”
Retired 65-year-old Fred Monk could not understand the fuss over phone hacking. “I read the NOTW every Sunday and I have done for years. I don't think it what happened [with the hacking] was that bad, people had to do that to get the stories,” he said. “I'll read one of the others but I want it back. Bring back the NOTW.”
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