News of the World final edition published, ending 168 year run
LONDON (AP) — With the last edition of Britain's News of the World tabloid in hand, Rupert Murdoch arrived at the offices of his U.K. newspaper division Sunday to face the growing phone-hacking scandal that prompted the paper's closure.
TV footage showed the News Corp. CEO being driven into the east London offices of News International. The 80-year-old Murdoch was seated in the front passenger seat of a red Range Rover with a copy of the last issue of the best-selling Sunday tabloid in his hands.
Britons, too, were snapping up the last edition of the News of the World, after the 168-year-old muckraking paper was brought down in a phone-hacking scandal.
The 8,674th edition apologizes for letting the paper's readers down, but stops short of acknowledging recent allegations that its journalists paid police for information.
"We praised high standards, we demanded high standards but, as we are now only too painfully aware, for a period of a few years up to 2006 some who worked for us, or in our name, fell shamefully short of those standards," read a full-page editorial in the paper. "Quite simply, we lost our way. Phones were hacked, and for that this newspaper is truly sorry."
Allegations the paper's journalists paid police for information and hacked into the voicemails of young murder victims and the grieving families of dead soldiers prompted Murdoch's News International to shut down the tabloid.
The developments have turned up the heat on Britain's media industry amid concerns a police investigation won't stop with the News of the World, and cast new scrutiny on the cozy relationship between British politicians and the tabloid press.
Murdoch, who has long been considered a kingmaker in the British media establishment, is facing a maelstrom of criticism and outrage not just over the new allegations of impropriety at his tabloid, but also the decision to shut the paper and put 200 journalists out of work.
Closing down the News of the World, which was launched Oct. 1, 1843, was seen by some as a desperate attempt by the media conglomerate to stem negative fallout and thus save its 12 billion-pound ($19 billion) deal to take over satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting.
The British government has signaled that deal will be delayed because of the crisis, and the scandal has continued to unfold at breakneck pace in the media, prompting broader questions about corruption at the newspaper and media regulation in the U.K.
Soul-searching has extended to the highest levels of government, with Prime Minister David Cameron conceding politicians developed too cozy a relationship with the tabloid press. Cameron's former communications chief, Andy Coulson, is an ex-editor of the News of the World and was one of three men arrested this week as part of a police investigation into the phone-hacking and corruption allegations.
Cameron has called for a new media regulation system and pledged a public inquiry into what went wrong; the head of Murdoch's U.K. newspaper operations has alluded that more revelations are yet to come.
As the News of the World's final issue went to press, Assistant Police Commissioner John Yates expressed his "extreme regret" that he did not act to reopen police inquiries into phone hacking two years ago. In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, he said "it's clear I could have done more."
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