The Screws: Screwed

Still trying to take in tonight’s shocking news the the News of the World is to close after 168 years.

So what to make of it? There’s no way it can work.

For a start, the NI management have put the backs of 200+ journalists up. Speaking as a journalist, I can say that we’re generally a bitter, vindictive, cunning and creative bunch who bear grudges. An old cliche about the kind of people you want urinating out of the tent rather than in it springs to mind. Rumour has it the NI newsrooms are already in revolt.

Secondly, it’s stopped people thinking about the phone-hacking scandal and turned minds to what people liked about the Screws – its big book, salacious stories, unrivalled sports coverage etc. And it’s put the names of Coulson, Brooks and the various Murdochs starkly into the spotlight. ‘Cause it’s not the Screws brand that’s been tainted, it’s the Murdoch brand.

And it’s become perfectly clear that NI won’t be yielding its space in the Sunday market for long. In fact, it’s looking more and more like a cheap and cynical ploy to create a cheaper and ‘detoxified’ Sun on Sunday.

Whichever way you look at it, it’s a feeble strategy. Now, Rupert Murdoch doesn’t have a flawless record (see MySpace) but he’s been right (from the point of view of the success of his business, rather than morality) much more often than he’s been wrong. So what’s got into the sly old fox? Perhaps he’s told his son James that it’s his mess and he has to clean it up.

But you have to wonder if there’s something deeper or more personal going on …

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