Friday, July 08, 2011

Farewell to the Screws

As a former journalist I cannot but be saddened by the demise of the News of the World, affectionately known among hacks as The News of the Screws. Of course, no one can defend the phone hacking and bribery of the police, but the newspaper really has been part of the fabric of the UK throughout the decades. It was always there in my grandparents' house (my parents foolishly bought the crap Sunday Express instead) and as I grew up I would secretively check the paper to find out who had been screwing whom whenever I got the chance. Being intensely interested in Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies in the 60s (which teenage boy wasn't?) it was to the News of the World that I would inevitably turn. I often wondered if the journalists really did 'make an excuse and leave' just as they were getting to the exciting part of some prurient sex story.

Friends on the tabloids have told me in the past that phone hacking and other deceitful methods of obtaining juicy stories have been common for years. No one thought anything about it. All was fair in love, war and journalism. And any reporter raising concerns would quickly be out on his ear. The thought of an editor not knowing about this beggars belief.

Now though the lies, bribes and chickens have come home to roost. But instead of Rebekah Brooks and the like taking the flak it's the paper itself, and the journalists who work there. How convenient for Murdoch: he can close down the Screws and launch a Sun on Sunday in its place, thus getting rid of journos and saving costs in the process. A cunning plan, but maybe not quite as cunning as he thinks, as now everyone knows what many of us have always thought - that Murdoch and his cronies are crooked and not to be trusted in charge of a major broadcaster.


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