It's The End Of The 'World,' But The Story Isn't Over "Thank You and Goodbye" was the headline of Britain's biggest selling newspaper, The News of the World, on Sunday. After 168 years, amid an escalating scandal of phone hacking, the paper published its last issue.
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It's The End Of The 'World,' But The Story Isn't Over

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It's The End Of The 'World,' But The Story Isn't Over

It's The End Of The 'World,' But The Story Isn't Over

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

Thank You & Goodbye. That's the headline of Britain's biggest selling newspaper today, the News of the World. After 168 years, and amid an escalating scandal of phone hacking, the paper has published its last issue.

David Folkenflik is in London following the story.

David, thanks for being with us this morning.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK: You bet.

WERTHEIMER: So how do the longtime readers feel with this last issue coming out?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, for people who are devotees of the paper, they're wistful about it. It's been an expected friend that they can turn to every Sunday. I talked to a number of people who said, look, it was a good combination of news and gossip and you could rely on it. And there are other people who said that they just dipped into it as they would a popular magazine.

One woman I talked to, Lorna Conlon, was from Ireland.

LORNA CONLON: It was a bit of a guilty pleasure, really. It's a bit of nothingness, like the paper. There's not really anything like of too much substance in it. You don't really believe half of what you read. But it's like reading a magazine, really.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

FOLKENFLIK: That's Lorna Conlon from Ireland.

You know, these people are saying they can get this elsewhere but that they'll miss it, the News of the World.

WERTHEIMER: What about the staff of this newspaper?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, not wistful but quite angry. Most of the people on staff at the News of the World had nothing to do with this scandal, as most of them weren't there in the time that it occurred. It sort of ended at 2006, the first revelations of hacking into the mobile phones of the royals. There was a very confrontational meeting that the staff held on Friday with Rebekah Brooks, who's the chief executive of the British newspaper division of News Corp.

People at the newspaper are wondering why they lose their jobs when she gets to keep hers. After all, she had been editor of News of the World herself at a time when murder victims' voicemails had been hacked by investigators for the paper. And she's been overseeing the company at a time when it turns out that this scandal has metastasized. So if you read today's newspaper, it was really more of a celebratory valedictory.

There was an editorial where they say we're truly sorry - we lost our way. But all in all, they seem to assign this to a few bad apples, which is now something really under attack. The people there now say, hey, not our fault but we're taking the blame.

WERTHEIMER: So is there any sense that this is sort of a temporary arrangement, at lease for the big shooters on the staff of this paper, that they'll close the doors and then they'll paste a new name on the building and open them again?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, there certainly is widespread belief that the sister tabloid of a weekday called The Sun will become The Sun on Sunday and hire, you know, some of the folks from the News of the World to put out a Sunday tabloid. That's a wide, deep-spread belief. This folks at News Corp.'s British division tell us nothing is set yet, they haven't decided.

WERTHEIMER: What about the political fallout?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, the political fallout is coming fast and furious. It's still there. The - interestingly, this morning, The Sunday Times, which is itself a Rupert Murdoch owned News Corp. owned newspaper, reports that it turns out there was an internal report from News International itself done in 2007, that's four years ago, that did find hacking to be widespread in the newspaper.

But that was not released to authorities and that that was not told to James Murdoch, who heads the British operations and is obviously Rupert Murdoch's son, as well.

Why does this matter? Well, first off, it might implicate the publisher of the Wall Street Journal, Les Hinton, who at that time was the chief executive of News International here. And secondly, it's caused the head of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, to say we should stop Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. from gaining control of the nation's largest broadcaster, BSkyB, that's very much up in the air - very big issue.

Rupert Murdoch himself has flown to the country to try to start to take this issue on himself.

WERTHEIMER: NPR's David Folkenflik, he's reporting from London on the News of the World.

David, thank you.

FOLKENFLIK: My pleasure.

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