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Reaction to closure of the News of the World

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By The Drum Team | Editorial

July 8, 2011 | 9 min read

Some of the reaction to the news that the News of the World is to close by members of the media and marketing community.

Nathan Lane, managing director of Ptarmigan Bell Pottinger Leeds

'Murdoch only had two choices - either sack all staff working there when this happened or close it completely...if it's knocked £600m off the share price in one week then it really isn't an expensive decision.

“It’s built up such a head of steam and it touches so many different parts of society that it clearly wasn't going away. This move draws a line under it, in PR terms it's quite a smart move.”

PR Guru Max Clifford

"I think the whole thing is shocking. I feel very sorry for the team at the News of the World, because the reality of it is that none of them working on the News of the World have anything to do with this, so they've all lost their jobs because of what happened years ago by other journalists and not by them. So they're being punished for what other people did. I'm sorry for that.

"I think it's a sad day, [after] 168 years, the most famous paper in the world is going. I think it's a Sunday morning tradition in this country, the same way as eggs and bacon. I think that they have... broken a lot of major stories over the years and been very supportive of a lot of big campaigns, Help for Heroes, Sarah's Law, all of these things."

Joanna Randall from PR consultancy Purple Fish

The announcement that the News of the World is to close after this weekend is an extreme reaction but one which clearly indicates the severity of the scandal to hit News Int and also perhaps proves what we all thought – that the practices the paper was allegedly accused of supporting and indeed covering up were so firmly entrenched in the newspaper’s culture that it cannot recover from it.

"So, the News of the World is now dead – a UK institution that has died a horrible death. But perhaps from a damage limitation viewpoint News International would rather throw this now terminally ill title to the lions than risk further fallout and guilt by association spreading to its other titles. What brought about this action today? With the loss of ad revenue; growing political pressure and vociferous ‘anti’ public opinion it seems that the organisation had little choice but to at last take decisive and firm action. They had begun to look arrogant and ignorant with little response or public engagement and perhaps some fallout could have been prevented had action been taken sooner?

"I expect more murky details will emerge and when they do at least News International will be able to start putting some distance between itself (the organisation) and what will by next week be a dead publication.

"Interestingly the group has used James Murdoch as the name behind the announcement – no doubt a strategic move and one which perhaps indicates the shape of things to come from the ‘heir apparent’? As with all negative issues that are dealt with through the media there is always more to it than meets the eye and I don’t doubt that this story will continue to unfold for some time to come. However, with the News of the World gone there’s going to be a nice little gap in the News International stable – I feel a new title launch coming on…"

Paul Holleran – Scottish organiser for the NUJ admitted that he expected something like this for a while as the company was restructuring its news divisions anyway and they are taking advantage of this situation – although he did say it had been a nightmare for NI at the same time. Thinks the possibility of a Sunday Sun is possible, or a seven day operation to be put in place but hasn’t spoken to anyone at the company in Scotland as they are ‘keeping their heads down low’. Around 16 members of staff in Scotland worked on the newspaper under contract, although it used a lot of freelance subs and journalists too.

Jane Wilson, CIPR CEO,

‘This is a great example of traditional media and social media working together to produce a staggering outcome. The Guardian has broken good investigative story that has dominated the week's news agenda, having a similar impact to the Daily Telegraph coverage of the MPs expenses scandal. The remarkable thing in this case is how quickly public sentiment shaped into a social media campaign to put pressure on brands to pull their advertising from the News of the World. Added to the political pressure, this meant News International had to act.’

Chris Lawrance, JBP PR

Could NOTW been saved? As far as reputation management is concerned they don’t come much bigger that the NOTW debacle. But could Murdoch, the godfather of media, have acted more decisively and removed the NOTW team implicated in the phone hacking scandal particularly Rebekah Brooks, Chief Executive of News International, the former News of World Editor under whose watch some of the alleged phone hacking took place? His decision to give Brooks the responsibility to lead the paper’s internal inquiry, a move described as extraordinary by the Press Complaints Commission, could arguably be one of the worst that he has made in his coveted business career. In doing so it just served to extend the suspicion and mistrust of the paper and eventually its downfall. A painful lesson in reputation management.

Piers Morgan, former editor of the News of the World when he was just 28 and never managed to get it into this much trouble, has tweeted that he is "saddened and shocked" by its closure

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary

“This shows the depths to which Rupert Murdoch and his lieutenants at News International are prepared to stoop. The announcement James Murdoch should be making today is the dismissal of Rebekah Brookes as chief executive of News International. The shocking revelations this week show beyond doubt the systemic abuse and corruption at the top of the operation ran by both Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson. Yet News International has persistently lied about the extent of this scandal and tried to pass it off as a problem created by a couple of rogue reporters. “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. Murdoch is clearly banking on this drawing a line under the scandal, removing an obstacle to the BskyB deal, and letting his senior executives off the hook. That simply won’t wash. It is not ordinary working journalists who have destroyed this paper’s credibility – it is the actions of Murdoch’s most senior people. “James Murdoch was absolutely right when he said in his statement today that ‘Wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad.’ Yet those wrongdoers are still there today, at the top of the News International empire and ordinary staff at the paper are paying with their livelihoods.

“The closure of the News of the World – a newspaper that has been in print now for 168 years – is a calculated sacrifice by Rupert Murdoch to salvage his reputation and that of News International, in the hope that readers will switch allegiance to a new seven-day operation at The Sun, the government will wave through the BSkyB deal and he will widen his grip on the UK’s media landscape. “It is ironic that 25 years after the Wapping dispute it is the behaviour of Rupert Murdoch and his management that has caused the closure of the newspaper. The NUJ will offer all support to its members at the News of the World facing compulsory redundancies and will be organising an emergency meeting of all journalists at the title to offer advice and support.”

Stuart Feather, director of media buyer Feather Brooksbank

"Whilst it is a sad day for the media industry it also demonstrates News Corp's determination to resolve their current issues through quick and decisive action. Clearly it will leave a big hole in the media schedules of some very large advertisers most notably B Sky B, Everything Everywhere, Proctor and Gamble, O2 and Tesco who all spent in excess of £1million in the title over the last 12 months. It will also leave a gap in the lives of its 7 million readers, but I expect they will form other media habits quite quickly whether it is switching to another title or another medium completely.

"Perhaps the biggest hole will be in the pockets of News Corp themselves; an average issue of the News of the World brings in around £750,000 in display advertising revenue alone according to Nielsen, plus around £2.5m in cover sales revenue - have no doubt however that they will find another revenue stream to fill this hole. The media business is renowned for frequent change, but change of this speed and scale is unheard of. The short term future in Newspaper land is going to be very interesting indeed."

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