So, the News of the World will be no more after this weekend. I can’t say I’ll miss it, although I do feel a little sorry for the staff who will be losing their jobs while the senior executives who allowed the paper’s name to become mud keep theirs.
There is, though, and quite understandably, a lot of gloating going on at the moment. But is this really a victory? I’m not so sure.
In 2006, the Information Commissioner’s Office published a report titled “What Price Privacy Now?“, about the use of illegal methods by private investigators to obtain information for newspapers and other clients. Not all of this is phone hacking, of course (in fact, that’s a fairly small proportion of the total), but the methods used were no less illegal and no less intrusive. In particular, there’s one table which shows the “number of transactions positively identified” as involving illegal and/or intrusive methods and the number of journalists involved, listed by newspaper. If you download the full document, linked above, it’s on page 9. But here’s the list in simple text format:
|Mail on Sunday||266||33|
|News of the World||182||19|
|Weekend Magazine (Daily Mail)||30||4|
|Night and Day (Mail on Sunday)||9||2|
|Sunday Business News||8||1|
|Sunday Mirror Magazine||6||1|
|Daily Mirror Magazine||3||2|
|Mail in Ireland||3||1|
Yes, the data is now nearly five years old, so it doesn’t include the period covered by the NotW scandal. And it’s quite possible that some of the publications at the top of the list have cleared up their act in the meantime. But that’s not what the media themselves are saying.
This may be the end of the road for the News of the World. But it’s not the end of the road for the story. There will be plenty more twists and turns before it’s all over.