Because I am living in the UK, I have been witness to apparently what is the end of an era for journalism in their country. News of the World, a publication that has been published for the past 168 years, closed its doors Saturday night after the printing of their final issue that was to be on stands Sunday morning.
Being from America, I along with most of my friends that are also here were not familiar with News of the World nor the ethical controversy that had been surrounding it. But as the controversy escalated over the past 5 years, more and more of their advertisers pulled out and revenues plunged.
It was revealed that News of the World employees hacked into at least 7,000 people’s phones in order to scoop stories. They even went as far as to delete voicemails from phones that could have been used as evidence in criminal cases. So how does something this unethical get this far? That’s a question no one is really able to answer right now. The phone hackings were reportedly a well-known practice throughout the office and went on for some time.
The final issue was on the stands throughout the UK yesterday, titled “Thank You and Goodbye,” and could be purchased for £1, with all proceeds apparently going to charity. I was able to purchase one and read through it, and I must say that for a company that had done such unethical things, I really wasn’t impressed.
Yes, they expressed remorse for their actions, but they lacked a sense of humility over what they had turned into. They were an extreme power house in the UK journalism world for so long, but their demise didn’t happen overnight. These unethical practices had been occuring for years, for so long it had become a normal practice of their investigative reporting. I feel as though they still seemed a little bit too proud of themselves after everything that happened.
They didn’t get away with it though. With unethical actions come consequences. Advertisers pulled out, extreme amounts of revenue were lost, and the publication went under. The advertisers were essentially what decided the fate of the biggest news publication in the UK. That’s a huge power to have.
So what does this mean? It definitely sends a message and shows where the power lies in the advertiser/media relationship. With the rise of the internet and digital media, we’ve already seen traditional forms of journalism floundering. This just exemplifies the power of the advertisement, and lets all publications know that unethical actions will have consequences. I guess its up to the advertisers now to keep them in check.