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Daily View: Why did Murdoch close News of the World?

Clare Spencer | 10:15 UK time, Friday, 8 July 2011

Commentators speculate about Rupert Murdoch's reasons for closing News of the World and look at how this could change the UK's media landscape.

Bob Garfield says in the Guardian closing the paper makes sense:

"By lopping News of the World from the News Corp corpus, Murdoch is taking control of the story, dictating the climax weeks or months before officialdom would act, during which time he would have to endure the News of the World tar-the-star treatment from every media organisation in the world, including some of his own."

Also in the Guardian, Roy Greenslade backs up Bob Garfield:

"The closure of the News of the World is a breathtaking, but entirely proportionate, response to the crisis that was engulfing the paper and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.
"He had to do something dramatic because it was clear that his company was so badly tarnished by the almost hourly revelations of wrong-doing by the paper."

The Telegraph's David Hughes thinks that the decision is not only about protecting News International's chief executive Rebekah Brooks:

"Most of all, this move is designed to ensure that News Corporation's bid for BSkyB goes ahead. That is at the heart of Murdoch's strategy, not the fate of Britain's best-selling red top."

William Rees-Mogg says in the Times that News of the World's closure is a decision the public would have made themselves:

"The first rule of newspaper ethics, as with the ethics of political life, is not to lose touch with the moral codes of the audience: common sense, goodwill, help to neighbours, decent conduct in general."

Philip Stephens argues in the Financial Times that mistakes made by the paper have finally caught up with Rupert Murdoch:

"As always, though, News International operated with a ruthlessness and on a scale that left its rivals behind. Within the industry, the News of the World was said to be 'out of control'. Mr Murdoch has bungled his response at every turn. Instead of acting decisively when a dam of new allegations burst last year, he backed a failed strategy of evasion and obfuscation. Now he has run out of time. Ms Brooks is beyond saving. So, probably, is Mr Murdoch's last big media dream. Nemesis is fast catching up with hubris."

Aside from the motives, commentators look at the consequences. Andrew Gilligan worries in the Telegraph that the demise of the News of the World could threaten press freedom:

"The paper's demise certainly marks the end of a particular tabloid era and culture. But it may only have succeeded in triggering an earthquake that now threatens the entire British press.
"For be in no doubt: hateful as the behaviour of some journalists has been, we may now face something even worse. For many in power, or previously in power, the News of the World's crimes are a God-given opening to diminish one of the greatest checks on that power: the media."

The Independent's Mary Dejevsky defends Rupert Murdoch:

"It is easy to demonise Rupert Murdoch. Yet without his involvement in the British media, the newspapers he now owns might not exist at all. As someone who worked for The Times, I concede an interest here. His defeat of the print unions changed the economics of the British press and made new ventures, such as The Independent, feasible. With Sky, he transformed the television landscape, giving British viewers a breadth of choice that has only recently come to the rest of Europe.
"With each expansion he made new enemies, with many seeing any Murdoch gain as a threat. It may or may not be coincidence that each twist of the phone-hacking scandal seemed to coincide with a stage in Murdoch's efforts to gain the majority stake in BSkyB. Each revelation has served as a convenient peg to hang an anti-Murdoch agenda on."

Finally, for Robert Zeliger at Foreign Policy the phone hacking was the final straw as he looks back at the paper's "most questionable journalistic moments", number one being the "fake sheik":

"What enterprising investigative reporter hasn't pretended to be an Arab sheikh to trick rich and powerful people into exposing embarrassing secrets or performing illegal activities? What's so wrong about that? News of the World reporter Mazher Mahmood, who was born in Britain to Pakistani immigrant parents, claimed to be responsible for putting over 100 criminals behind bars (though critics have questioned the number)."

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