Today saw the end of a century-and-two-thirds old British tabloid known as News of the World, publishing its very last issue with the sad spectacle of a headline, "Thank You & Goodbye."
If you haven't followed the story of NotW, don't hold it against yourself - it's a British thing. But the tabloid was more commonly known as the "News of the Screw," for its raging stories about celebrity sex and drug related scandals. It was more akin to Us Magazine or The Enquirer than it was to The Star or the National Post. Maybe similar to the Sun, but the British have their own version of Quebecor's rag.
Somewhere along the line of exposing who Shakira has been sleeping with, NotW lost all sense of journalistic integrity. This culminated with NotW's editors directing their employees to find ways into hacking the cell phones of individuals ranging from celebrities to government officials to the parents of soldiers killed in action. One of these editors was a man named Andy Coulson, who went on to became Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron's communications director, a position he had to dutifully step down from once all of this hacking was exposed.
To further NotW's predicament, their director, James Murdoch, son of News Corp owner Rupert Murdoch, lied to a parliamentary committee about the culpability of NotW's managers in the phone hacking scandals. It was later discovered that the directors were in effective knowledge of the initiative, noted by Murdoch's settling out-of-court some privacy violations resulting from the hacking. Not the brightest move in a Murdoch's career, as he could be facing charges, throwing News Corp - aka those who control the Sun, Fox News, and a few other right-wing nutteries - and its succession plans into doubt.
So now, it's all come down to NotW being forced to close because of all the liability and loss of subscribers and any sort of integrity, exemplified in the fact that when they offered free space to charities for their last edition this Sunday, the charities turned it down.
But as I said, NotW shan't be missed by many. My concern is where all those journalists and editors go to after the doors close. For the meantime, I hope they received a lesson or two while they're out of the job. If not, maybe the judge will teach that lesson to them in a more effective manner.