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Why people power did not close The News of the World

I bought the last copy of The News of The World last Sunday. Not because I supported the paper in any way shape or form but, from a professional point of view, I wanted to own a piece of publishing history. I can’t remember a time in my whole life ( almost half a century)  an instance of a newspaper closing down in the midst of such a scandal. 

However, I have heard a lot of people talking about how we should celebrate the fact that  ‘people power’ and public opinion closed a newspaper.  In fact on Friday’s edition of Newsnight, the founder of Mumsnet said; ” we saw what social media can do…when individual people decide to take direct action…ordinary people on Facebook, on Twitter, on Mumsnet have made a difference.

Errr…I don’t think so

Come on now folks,  lets’ not kid ourselves that it was ‘people power’ that closed this newspaper. As Will Self said on Newsnight it was ‘the people’ that bought the paper year in year out because of their “ubiquitous appetite for what the gutter press have peddled.” 

It was, in my opinion,  a carefully orchestrated move by the Murdoch empire to try and ensure that the Government had no grounds to refer NewsCorp’s bid for BSkyB to the OFT.  In fact in an article in the Guardian back on 30th June: News International facing job losses , it was reported that Rebekah Brooks had sent an e-mail to staff saying: “Let me be absolutely clear: there are tough decisions coming. Costs will need to be cut and savings made in overheads and personnel… and that “a seven-day operation will be a reality in some common areas.” Additionally, the article stated  that earlier that week: “News International announced there would be a single managing editor for the Times and Sunday Times, and another for the Sun and News of the World, in an indication that the daily and Sunday titles are preparing to pool some editorial resources in a move to a seven day operation in some areas. Previously each of the four titles had a dedicated managing editor.”

Then there was the regsitration of the sunonsunday.co.uk on 5th July – which News International have taken ownership of today.

And while the bid has indeed now been referred – how long before Newscorp no longer owns News International? We shall see.

A celebration of people power? Don’t make me laugh.  A lot of ordinary people lost their jobs last week because of a few bad apples. Rebekah Brooks still has hers. Not much to celebrate there.


  1. Interesting article but I can’t agree with your argument or indeed the argument from Will Self (not sure why Will Self is so often held up as the ultimate voice of reason for that matter).

    To say that it was the ‘people’ themselves who (even if in their millions) satisfied their “ubiquitous appetite for what the gutter press have peddled” is not only insulting, but it also misses the point of what the founder of Mumsnet is saying.

    It’s insulting because the ‘people’s’ appetite for gutter journalism is not ubiquitous. The final copy of The News Of The World sold around 3.8 million copies – hardly the whole paper-buying population of the UK. And furthermore, I and no doubt thousands, perhaps millions of others celebrated at the welcome demise of one of this country’s rags, so I don’t have this ‘appetite’ and I’m assuming, neither do they. Do you?

    The second reason, the argument against the strength of so-called people power falls down and where Mr Self misses the point is that the ‘people’ he refers to are not the ‘people’ the lady from Mumsnet refers to. Why would they be? I doubt very much the people who were hungrily snapping up this drivel week in week out were the same people that were in uproar on Twitter, Facebook and national and local radio phone-ins.

    Lastly, I’m not sure were the point about registering thesunonsunday.co.uk fits in with this argument. It was registered in the full heat of the firestorm at the time – we all know there’s a market for this kind of bile and that market will be fed with some kind of NOWT rebrand – but what’s that got to do with this being a people power issue? Furthermore, the news that this domain had been registered can have done NewsCorp’s so-called tactic of avoiding a referral to the OFT no good whatsoever, so I can’t see how it was a carefully orchestrated move, but instead the actions of a group that knew it was under extreme pressure – from people using a host social media channels and indeed, the media itself. Apart from The Sun of course!

    • Thanks for commenting – I do take your point and I certainly wasn’t intending to insult anyone – I have no probelm with people reading tittle tattle if that is what they want to do – it doesnt float my boat but I wouldnt presume to dictate to people what they can and can’t read. My point was that the NOTW had the biggest circulation of any other newspaper – so there was very definitely an appetite.

      I have no doubt that the people Will Self was referring were different to the people that mumsnet were referring to. My point, which I stand by, was that it wasnt public opinion that forced the NOTW to close – social media is powerful – of that there is no doubt – but in this case it wasnt the victor! The Sun on Sunday registration – in my view had a direct correlation to the announcement much earlier – of a potential move to a seven day operation – and having one Managing Editor rather than two separate ones – a story that broke before the whole hacking debacle.
      It’s interesting that Newscorp have now backed out of the bid – so perhaps that proves me wrong. It will also be interesting to see in a years time if Newscorp divests itself of NI and rebids!

      Just my humble opinion:)

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