I’ve just discovered what many must have known for years, that the true test of a real news story is when you just don’t believe it.
When I read just now, at Guido‘s, the news that the News of the World has been closed, I thought, you’re ‘avin’ a laugh, and I was merely puzzled as to why. What, I thought to myself, is the point of concocting this bizarre joke (in the form of a fake press release), and at such bizarre length? Newspapers that are making tons of money and which have lots of readers don’t just close, merely because they’ve done something wrong. Newspapers die, but that’s entirely different.
Yet, it appears to be so. The News of the World is indeed to shut.
The only serious attention that I have ever given to the News of the World was when it broke this story about Pakistan cricket corruption. I was grateful for that sting operation then, and am accordingly a bit regretful now. Although I do agree that if you want to make your newspaper hated by everyone, then it is hard to think of a better way of doing it than to get caught busting into the phones of a murder victim and her family.
The NotW is being shut, I presume, to enable Rupert Murdoch‘s various television plans to proceed profitably. Will this dramatic step do the trick? Might it not make Murdoch look even worse, by drawing yet more attention to the skullduggery that he presided over and surely knew all about, and to the fact that he only closed the NotW when the skullduggery became public knowledge?
David Cameron, because of his close connection to the NotW gang, is also looking very bad. The line here at Samizdata on that will presumably be: oh dear, how tragic.