Thursday, July 7, 2011

U.K. online news commenters smell a different agenda in 'News of the World' closing announcement

I noticed it in the comments of UK online readers immediately: many were speculating that News International decided to close the 168 year old newspaper as a way of resurrecting the paper later, but without its unions.

Now The Guardian has caught on, quoting a spokesman for the National Union of Journalists as stating that "all 200 News of the World staff are to be made redundant, although they will be invited to apply for other jobs in the company." Lovely, no?

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet is quoted by as stating "Closing the title and sacking over 200 staff in the UK and Ireland, and putting scores more freelances and casuals out of a job, is an act of utter cynical opportunism."

No word from the paper's staff as it appears the company has blocked Internet access, or at least access to Twitter.

The News of the World website announces its own closing. But don't count on it staying closed.

It seems uttering improbable to me that News International would so quickly throw away the News of the World brand, and that Rupert Murdoch himself would approve the closing of the paper he worked so hard to acquire back in 1969. But it does seem typical of News Corp. that it would take advantage of the situation to both protect management while at the same time severely trim costs. In any case, News International has already announced a Sunday edition of the Sun.

I also find it interesting that this phone hacking case is raising so much anger in the U.K. while revelations that Fox News was handing out position papers, or that it has kept so many of the announced Republican candidates for President on its payrolls has not generated much of a buzz at all here in the States.

Guess if it doesn't involve sex Americans simply don't care about media corruption and scandal. Funny how the Brits are so old fashioned about these things.

Update 1: Excellent video recap of the scandal by Nick Davies of The Guardian. Very well done.

Update 2: The Guardian is reporting that Andy Coulson, formerly the Tory government's director of communications, was asked today to present himself to police on Friday, along with a second former senior News of the World journalist.