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Donkin's World: Requiem For A Red Top

...The Star is not wanted now: cancel every one;
Pack up the Mirror and dismantle the Sun;
Cast away the broadsheets, pour out the printers'ink,
The plug is pulled on Fleet Street and it's going down the sink....

Journalist, author and blogger Richard Donkin contemplates the closure of Britain's leading Sunday newspaper.


Stop all the clocks, silence the pianos, let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead, scribbling the message - Britain's biggest selling newspaper is dead.

It might not have been your north and south, your east and west. Not even your working week, but it may have been part of your Sunday rest, particularly if you grew up in a working class household during the 1960s. Those were heady days for the News of the World when the newspaper was read by more than one sixth of the UK's population.

Even if he didn't go to church, the working man could content himself with his twenty Woodbines, his pint of beer and his weekly feast of sport and scandal in the knowledge that "all human life was there".

The telephone tapping at the News of the World was indefensible; criminal. http://donkinlife.blogspot.com/2011/07/media-in-dock.htmlAnd yet I feel some sadness that the the newspaper is being closed down by its proprietor, Rupert Murdoch (Will he think again?). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9c-QVw-FWs

I appreciate that sadness is not shared by many. "Good riddance," says a friend and I'm sure she's speaking for the vast majority of people in the UK today.

But be in no doubt, when the NoTW's presses ran for the last time, a little bit of ourselves died with it. Whether we like to admit it or not, the News of the World was part of the British national psyche.

Anyone coming to the UK for the first time could have discovered quite a bit about what makes this country tick if they had flicked through a single issue of the NoTW.

Its reporting methods were not to my taste and neither were most of its stories. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14077634 But I, like most of us, I guess, would lap up the leftovers on a Monday morning in the broadsheets that so often felt constrained to follow up on NoTW Sunday exclusives. Now what will they do?

Would I know about the extent of corruption in cricket, without the NoTW's exposure of the spread betting scandal involving members of the Pakistan national squad? Would I have known of the Duchess of York's willingness to sell access to her former husband, Prince Andrew? I don't think so.

I'm not sure I wanted to know about Max Mosley's predilection for sado masochism or Angus Deayton's coke-fuelled sex romps, or should that be sex-fuelled coke romps? I'm not a dab hand at tabloid-speak.

And I couldn't give a monkey's about overpaid footballers cheating on their WAGS. The NoTW had become no more working class than a Coronation Street obsessed with transsexuals and gay relationships. Not that I have anything against gay relationships. I just don't think they are particularly representative of what goes on behind the net curtains in the cobbled streets of Salford. But I could be wrong. Stan and Hilda Ogden - News of the World readers, surely - are long gone.

One day we might look back and recognise the NoTW's closure as the last nail in the coffin of Britain's working class. If so, that might be a good thing because the working class I remember - the class that was my childhood - would have had no truck with phone tapping or the crass behaviour of 100,000 a week footballers. That working class saw Rupert Murdoch for what he was and did its utmost to stop him at fortress Wapping.

So the News of the World died and the man and woman that made it what it became in its latter years, survive. There ain't no justice in this world and probably not much news any more either, at least not on a Sunday.

Hurrah for the Daily Telegraph's headline writer who gave us: Goodbye, cruel World. Brilliant. But is this the beginning of the end for all newspapers? With apologies to W H Auden:

The Star is not wanted now: cancel every one;
Pack up the Mirror and dismantle the Sun;
Cast away the broadsheets, pour out the printers'ink,
The plug is pulled on Fleet Street and it's going down the sink.


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