Mood in Wapping: Anger and confusion in the newsroom at shock exit
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Thursday 01 March 2012
The mood of mutiny that has existed in the newsrooms of News International since the first arrests of journalists on the News of the World and The Sun simply got angrier and more confused yesterday.
The launch this week of The Sun on Sunday and the high-profile marketing exercise that saw Rupert Murdoch, the founding father of the global News Corp empire, fly in to London to offer the project his personal blessing, did little to improve the mood in Wapping.
Now the Docklands camp is split over what to make of James Murdoch leaving east London for New York.
For some journalists, especially on The Times and Sunday Times, there was a degree of comfort that their titles had lost an ineffective and damaged chairman.
They felt that whatever revelations are to come about what Mr Murdoch knew or was told of illegal practices, the potential damage has been lessened with his leaving.
One Times journalist described this as "the optimistic wing".
Others see the departure of the once-presumed heir as darkening the clouds over the UK newspaper division of News Corp.
There are some in The Sun newsroom that saw the exit of NI's executive chairman as the latest stage of a planned abandonment.
They did not buy into Rupert Murdoch's smiles and handshakes last week and saw instead a paper being launched on the cheap, to be produced by people who might be patted on the back one day and shopped to the Metropolitan Police the next.
This is the pessimist wing, or as it's called, the "f**ked off".
A Murdoch inside Wapping was seen by some as much-needed insurance in terms of what happens next.
But for others, what happens next was already out of the hands of James Murdoch and in the gift of the supposedly independent Management and Standards Committee, which reports to masters in New York.
Perhaps the only common theme at Wapping last night was what one Sunday Times journalist called a "sense of open season".
The sense of permanence; that survival instinct that took the titles through the revolution when they moved out of Fleet Street to Docklands, has gone.
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