The editor Andy Coulson resigned on 26 January 2007 over the royal phone tapping scandal. He was succeeded by Colin Myler, a former editor of the Sunday Mirror who had latterly worked at the New York Post. Previous editors of the paper include Piers Morgan and Rebekah Wade, who replaced Phil Hall in 2000. On 7 July 2011, News International announced that the News Of The World will be permanently closed that week, the last issue being produced on Sunday 10 July 2011. The closure was in response to the developing phone hacking scandal, after a private investigator allegedly hacked into the phone of murdered British teenager Milly Dowler, possibly interfering with the police investigation and causing distress to the girl's parents. The allegations led to a public backlash and the loss of advertising revenue, as a number of companies advertising with the paper pulled out pending an investigation. The scandal deepened when the paper was alleged to have hacked into the phones of families of soldiers killed in action. As a result of the scandal, James Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive of News Corporation, Europe and Asia, announced on 7 July 2011 that the 10 July 2011 edition of the paper would be the last.
On 8 July 2011 former editor Andy Coulson was arrested by police investigating phone hacking and corruption allegations. On the same day ex-NoW royal editor Clive Goodman, jailed for phone hacking in 2007, was also arrested over similar corruption claims.
1843 to 1968The newspaper was first published as The News of the World on 1 October 1843, in London by John Browne Bell. Priced at just three pence (equal to £1.04 today), even before the repeal of the Stamp Act (1855) or paper duty (1861), it was the cheapest newspaper of its time and was aimed directly at the newly literate working classes. It quickly established itself as a purveyor of titillation, shock and criminal news. Much of the source material came from coverage of vice prosecutions, including transcripts of police descriptions of alleged brothels, streetwalkers, and "immoral" women.
Before long, the News of the World established itself as the most widely read Sunday paper, with initial sales of around 12,000 copies a week. Sales then suffered because the price was not cut following the abolition of newspaper taxes and the paper was soon no longer among the leading Sunday titles, selling around 30,000 by 1880, a greater number but a smaller proportion, as newspaper sales had grown hugely. The title was sold by the Bell family in 1891 to Lascelles Carr who owned the Welsh Western Mail. As editor, he installed his nephew Emsley Carr, who held the post for 50 years. But the real engine of the paper's now quick commercial success was George Riddell, who reorganised its national distribution using local agents. Matthew Engel in his book Tickle the Public: One Hundred Years of the Popular Press (Gollancz, 1996) says that the News of the World of the 1890s was "a very fine paper indeed". The paper was not without its detractors, though. As one writer later related:
Frederick Greenwood, editor of the Pall Mall Gazette, met in his club one day Lord Riddell, who died a few years ago, and in the course of conversation Riddell said to him, "You know, I own a paper." "Oh, do you?" said Greenwood, "what is it?" "It's called the News of the World — I'll send you a copy," replied Riddell, and in due course did so. Next time they met Riddell said, "Well Greenwood, what do you think of my paper?" "I looked at it," replied Greenwood, "and then I put it in the waste-paper basket. And then I thought, 'If I leave it there the cook may read it' — so I burned it!"By 1912, the circulation was two million and around three million by the early 1920s. Sales reached four million by 1939. This success encouraged other similar newspapers, of which the Sunday People, the Daily Mail, the Daily Express and the Daily Mirror are still being published.
In 1928, the paper began printing in Manchester on the presses of the News Chronicle in Derby Street, moving in 1960 into Thomson House, Withy Grove (formerly known as Kemsley House) when the News Chronicle closed. The move to Thomson House led to the immediate closure of the Empire News, a paper printed there and mainly circulating in the North of England and Wales with a circulation of about 2.5 million. Officially the Empire News and News of the World merged but Thomson House was already printing the Sunday Pictorial (to become the Sunday Mirror) and Sunday Times and did not have any further capacity with the News of the World arriving.
The paper's motto was "All human life is there". The paper's name was linked with sports events as early as 1903 when the golfing tournament The News of the World Match Play Championship began (now under British PGA auspices). The News of the World Darts Championship existed from 1927 on a regional basis and became a national tournament from 1947 to 1990. There was also a News of the World Championship in snooker from 1950 to 1959 which eclipsed the official professionals' competition for a number of years. In athletics, the Emsley Carr Mile race was started in 1953 in memory of the former editor, and was still run in recent times. The paper's Football Annual was a long-standing publication, and a Household Guide and Almanac was also published at one time.
By 1950, the News of the World had become the biggest-selling newspaper in the world with a weekly sale of 8,441,000 and individual editions sold over 9 million copies.
Murdoch ownershipThe newspaper passed into the hands of Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd. in 1969, snatching the paper from Robert Maxwell's Pergamon Press after an acrimonious year-long struggle. Maxwell's foreign origin, combined with his political opinions, provoked a hostile response to his bid from the Carrs and from the editor of the News of the World, Stafford Somerfield, who declared that the paper was—and should remain—as British as roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.
News Ltd. arranged to swap shares in some of its minor ventures with the Carrs and by December it controlled 40 percent of the NOTW stock. Maxwell had been supported by the Jackson family (25% shareholders), but Murdoch had gained the support of the Carr family (30%) and then-chairman William Carr.
In January 1969, Maxwell's bid was rejected at a shareholders' meeting where half of those present were company staff, temporarily given voting shares. It was Murdoch's first Fleet Street acquisition. Maxwell accused Murdoch of employing "the laws of the jungle" to acquire the paper and said he had "made a fair and bona fide offer... which has been frustrated and defeated after three months of [cynical] manoeuvring." Murdoch denied this, arguing the shareholders of the News of the World Group had "judged [his] record in Australia."
Illness removed Sir William Carr from the chairmanship in June 1969, and Murdoch succeeded him.
The newspaper has often had to defend itself from libel charges and complaints to the Press Complaints Commission as a result of certain news-gathering techniques, such as entrapment, and contentious campaigns. Some of the best-known cases have been the "Bob and Sue" case with reporter Neville Thurlbeck, and various cases involving journalist Mazher Mahmood.
From 1981 a magazine (Sunday) was included with the paper, and in 1984 the paper itself changed from broadsheet to tabloid format. The paper was printed in Hertfordshire, Liverpool, Dinnington near Sheffield, Portsmouth and Glasgow, with a separate edition produced in Belfast. It was also printed at a number of sites abroad including Dublin, Madrid, Brussels, Cyprus and Orlando in Florida, USA.
In 1985, the News of the World moved out of Thomson House when the building was bought by the tycoon Robert Maxwell (and renamed Maxwell House) and after a short spell on the Daily Express presses in Great Ancoats Street moved to a new plant at Knowsley on Merseyside.
End of publicationIt was announced on 7 July 2011 that, after 168 years in print, the newspaper will print its final edition on 10 July 2011 following revelations of the ongoing phone hacking scandal, with the loss of 200 jobs. The paper has announced that all proceeds from the final edition will go to "good causes", and advertising space will be given to charities.
Downing Street said it had no role in the decision. James Murdoch has claimed that the company is fully co-operating with ongoing police investigations.
The 10 July 2011 edition of the News of the World carried its final headline, "Thank You and Goodbye", superimposed on top of a collage of past front pages. The back cover featured quotes from George Orwell in 1946, and a recent quote from a NotW reader, Jeanne Hobson. The final edition also included a 48-page pullout documenting the history of the paper. On 9 July 2011, after production of the final edition wrapped, editor Colin Myler led the staff out of the building, where he held a press conference thanking the staff and its readers, concluding, "In the best tradition, we are going to the pub."
There is speculation that News International will launch a Sunday edition of The Sun to replace the News of the World.