News of the World – Good Riddance

Rubbish First Edition of Paper that was Rubbish from beginning to end

I like history, but I try not to be sentimental about historical things.  The News of the World has been a British institution for 168 years.  When I did a paper round as a boy half the Sunday papers we delivered to the council estate I grew up on were the News of the World.  So am I sad to see it go?  Not a bit.  It might be a part of British culture but it was always a rubbish bit of British culture and we are better off without it.

I couldn’t bring myself to buy the last edition but I did flick through the pages of its ‘commemorative’ edition last Sunday.  It just reinforced my revulsion for the tawdry rag.  Basically it was a demeaning scandal sheet even before the Digger got his hands on it.   It was the unique genius of Rupert Murdoch to take something that was worthless and turn it into something toxic.

As it happens, I do have some personal experience of the way that News International works.  In 2005 some money was stolen from the joint credit card my wife and I use.  It was used to buy about £300 worth of slightly bizarre health products including herbal viagra.  We realised fairly quickly and managed without too much difficulty to identify the person responsible.  It was a journalist on the Sun.  We tried to get in touch with him and ended up talking to his line manager.  It turned out that this was part of a piece of ‘investigative journalism’.  They had used our credit card to demonstrate how easy it was for terrorists to fund their terrorism by using stolen credit card numbers.  Or something.  The guy I was talking to sounded like a complete prat.   We had already reported the incident to the Police but as they had returned the money it didn’t seem worth taking the matter any further.

Nonetheless it left an impression.  I thought that they were simply idiots.  It turned out that they had done the same to several other people. It even got turned into a sort of news story.  Frankly, if terrorists had the skill level of these so called ‘investigative journalists’ we could all sleep more safely in our beds.   Whatever else Murdoch is guilty of – and that is turning out to be quite a lot – he was certainly guilty of employing half-wits.  And that ultimately may have been the real problem all along.

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