News In Depth
Journalists shocked by closure
The announcement that the News of the World will close after this weekend was greeted with shock and amazement by journalists at News International.
Staff at the publisher's other newspapers received the statement by chairman James Murdoch and gasps were heard across the newsrooms at Wapping as they reached the line: "This Sunday will be the last issue of the News of the World."
The first person at The Times to read it swore out loud.
One member of staff said: "It took a few minutes for everyone to read through the statement.
"There was a 'f****** hell' from the first person who read it.
"Then there were lots of gasps and general amazement. Everyone is talking about it.
"People are still astonished and a bit worried."
Journalists at The Sun, the Sunday tabloid's sister paper, wondered what impact the closure would have on them.
One journalist said: "Everyone here is shocked and in disbelief. It's very sad that the paper is closing.
"We're not sure what this means for us yet."
One man said he felt "frankly terrible" as he left the Wapping site.
A Sunday Times employee added: "It's a pretty tense atmosphere in there. There are a lot of people worried."
News of the World associate editor David Wooding, who joined the newspaper 18 months ago, said: "When I went up into the editorial floor everybody was standing around looking dazed as if a nuclear bomb had just hit.
"We had been saying all week 'how can it get any worse?'"
He added: "Everybody who works on the News of the World is proud to work there. We are a campaign newspaper. Everybody who works there is blemish free."
Mr Wooding said the people associated with phone hacking were "driven out five years ago". He said he did not know why the "commercial decision" was made despite the newspaper's large circulation.
"Some people are crying and they are upset," he added.
Dan Wootton, News of the World showbiz editor, said he and his colleagues were "devastated" and that some had been in tears.
But he dismissed rumours that staff were baying for blood.
"There were these reports about a lynch mob mentality in the news room," he said. "That is just rubbish and I think it is quite despicable that these things have been said.
"There is devastation and fear. It is grief for the newspaper, that is what it is. It's not anger, it's grief.
"We were devastated. There were tears, and I know from a personal level we had huge sympathy for (News International chief executive) Rebekah Brooks delivering that news."
The sadness among the journalists was at "the fact that our newspaper - which is loved by seven million readers a week and still on Sunday also actually went up - that this is coming to an end," he said.
The paper had changed in recent years, he insisted.
"For the last four years we have delivered a quality newspaper, a newspaper that bears no resemblance to the newspaper that I have been reading about in the press this week," he said.
Features editor at the newspaper Jules Stenson told Sky News that staff showed "quiet pride" rather than "mob anger" when the announcement was made.
"There was shock, bewilderment, there were a few gasps, there were lots of tears from the staff," he said. "It's been reported that there was a lynch mob mentality which is completely untrue, there was none of that.
"There was bewilderment, there was disappointment but there wasn't any kind of mob anger, quite the contrary. There was a lot of quiet pride from a team of brilliant journalists, award winning journalists, who are very proud of the product and very proud of the 168-year history of the News of the World."
The National Union of Journalists said that sub editors at The Sun had walked out in sympathy with News of the World staff.
But a News International spokeswoman said "a few" Sun journalists had left work at the same time as their colleagues, when it was the end of the working day.
Media analysts said News International was likely to try to hang on to the readership of the News of the World with a new Sunday title.
Nicholas Grant, an analyst with Mediatrack, said: "It's an extraordinary development. It's absolutely staggering. It's changed the news-scape.
"The snow ball just picked up speed. The advertising was haemorrhaging and they knew it was only going to get worse."
He continued: "Initially there's going to be a scramble for readership among the other papers. But (News International) are not going to throw their readers away very easily. They are not going to want to surrender that audience."
However, he added: "They wouldn't be stupid enough to try and bring out a snap new title next week."
If the paper was to relaunch under a new name it would not be able to use the title the Sunday Sun, as this already exists in Newcastle.
The domain names thesunonsunday.co.uk and thesunonsunday.com have both been registered.
Staff at News International were told last Tuesday that a single group managing editor responsible for The Sun and the News of the World had been appointed, and another had been appointed with responsibility for The Times and The Sunday Times.
Chief executive Rebekah Brooks told them the new management structure would enable each title to "share best practice".
She said in the announcement circulated around the company: "Where there is common ground we will find ways of implementing efficiencies to editorial systems and processes and, where appropriate, we will find ways of introducing seven day working."
This prompted speculation among journalists that the operations at the two tabloids would be increasingly merged, and likewise at the broadsheets.
A spokeswoman for News International refused to comment on speculation that The Sun will now be published seven days a week.