Murdoch koos voor ‘nucleaire optie’ - reacties op verdwijnen News of The World

Caption: Copies of Britain's News of the World newspaper are pictured in London, on July 7, 2011. Britain's News of the World tabloid will print its last ever edition on Sunday July 10, 2011, following a scandal over phone hacking, owner Rupert Murdoch's son James Murdoch said Thursday. "Having consulted senior colleagues, I have decided that we must take further decisive action with respect to the paper. This Sunday will be the last issue of the News of the World," he said in a statement. AFP PHOTO /ADRIAN DENNIS Edities van News of The World. Foto AFP / Adrian Dennis

Het afluisterschandaal rond de Britse krant News of The World breidde zich de afgelopen dagen steeds verder uit. Na het afluisteren van voicemails van politici en beroemdheden, leken ook gewone Britten het slachtoffer geweest te zijn van dit soort praktijken. Volgens NRC-correspondent was de “walging bij het publiek nu zo groot” dat eigenaar Rupert Murdoch niet anders kon dan de krant op te heffen.

Maar daarmee verdwijnt zondag, bij het verschijnen van de laatste editie, een grote en oude krant. News of The World werd in 1843 opgericht en had een oplage van 2,6 miljoen. De reacties op de beslissing van Murdoch zijn die van ongeloof, woede en opluchting.

Steven Barnett, hoogleraar communicatie aan Westminister University zegt dat Murdoch met het opheffen van de krant gekozen heeft voor de “nucleaire optie”, de krant op te blazen:

“Astonishing. I’m completely gobsmacked. Talk about a nuclear option. You’ve got to feel sorry for the people who work on it. There are people who are going to lose their jobs.” “It could just be a fairly cynical ploy and there will be a new News International Sunday newspaper. It could well be that three months down the line the scandal’s calmed down a bit and they launch a new Sunday tabloid.” “It’s a lightning conductor.” “It will certainly take the heat off some of the immediate allegations about journalistic behaviour and phone hacking.” “I suspect that they are fearing the worst in terms of more revelations coming out, and can now turn around and say: ‘What more can we do? We have cut this thing off at the roots.’” “It’s important that we don’t get distracted by this announcement from asking some very serious questions.”

Ian Hargreaves, hoogleraar Media en Culturele Studies aan de Cardiff School of Journalists is ook verrast, maar benadrukt wel dat met het “stoppen van de krant, het afluisterschandaal niet voorbij is”:

“This is an astonishing and unprecedented act. It is appropriate to the moral horror that the owners of thenewspaper faced, but it does not yet answer a number of questions. A thorough inquiry is still needed to ensure that we know the extent of these heinous acts. That must include asking the question whether other newspapers have been guilty of similar crimes. Killing the paper does not kill the story.”

Tom Watson, parlementslid van Labour benadrukt dat niet Murdoch, maar “fatsoenlijke” Britten een einde hebben gemaakt aan de praktijken van News of The World:

“Let’s be clear, it’s not Rupert Murdoch that has closed this paper, it is decent families up and down the country who have shown outrage at the revelations that have bombarded this company all week,” Watson told Sky News. “This is a victory for decent people up and down the land and I say good riddance to the News of the World.”

Michelle Stanistreet, secretaris-generaal van de nationale vakbond van journalisten is geschokt dat niet de hoofdredacteur Rebekah Brooks wordt ontslagen, maar de hele krant nu verdwijnt:

“It’s comes as an incredible shock - the announcement James Murdoch should be making tonight is the dismissal of Rebekah Brooks. It is the people at the top who need to be punished, not ordinary workingjournalists.”

Media-analyticus Claire Enders ziet echter iets heel anders in de beslissing van Murdoch. Volgens haar zal de redactie van News of The World gewoon verhuizen naar The Sun.

“Our view is that this does not mean the News of the World will be closed. It will simply mean that there will be a seven day Sun. The stain on the brand was going to be permanent, and this is a perfectly sensible decision.”