The inside story of the last days of the News of the World

In the August edition of Press Gazette magazine we spoke with several former staff at the News of the World about how they were coping after its shock closure last month.

Here are some extracts from their acccounts of the final days of the News of the World and life in the immediate aftermath of its closure.

Tina Campanella, news reporter

All I ever wanted as a journalist was to work for the News of the World. It was a goal I achieved nine months ago. But now I don’t work there. No one does. The paper no longer exists.

Our final week began normally with our morning news meeting on Tuesday. Allegations of journalists hacking into Milly Dowler’s phone – revealed in the press the previous day – had left the office atmosphere a little strained.

Two difficult days later Rebekah Brooks told us the newspaper was closing. Shock hit us all – maybe this helped us keep working despite knowing we no longer had a job, and that the country would lose its favourite paper.

Two blurry days later we were putting the finishing touches on our final issue – an issue we were all extremely proud to work on. And then there was nothing.

Now instead of working on my newslist for Tuesday morning my days are empty. Instead of seeing and learning from my talented colleagues and being part of a buzzing newsroom I am alone in my flat with no reason to get out of bed.

I spent half of last week in tears, the rest in numbed silence. The fear that I will not find a job hangs over me. And I feel angry for both myself and my hard-working colleagues – for many of whom the News of the World was a way of life, not just a job.

Mostly I am saddened by my memories of those final days. Watching my workmates break down one after another was incredibly difficult. Seeing them type through blurred vision and wipe their eyes to keep going simply broke my heart.

And walking away from the pub that last night just hours before the final edition of the News of the World would hit the streets – was the saddest moment of my life.

Now I’m in limbo, I miss my job, I miss my colleagues, I’m tarred with a ‘toxic’brush and feeling – in all honesty – bereaved. I still think of myself as a news reporter at the News of the World. I don’t know how long it will be before I can think otherwise.

Helen Moss, sub-editor

I hardly ever cry. The last time was when my dear News of the World colleague Al Barter died almost a year ago.

So I was somewhat surprised to find myself sobbing uncontrollably when I woke up on Saturday, 9 July. While most people hate going to work. I was devastated I was going to work for the last time at the News of the World.

In the office one of my first jobs was the final marks on our film critic Robbie Collin’s brilliant pages, which I subbed every week because I loved his copy so much.

I’d usually tone down a couple of his most outlandish jokes, he’d come over, we’d verbally tussle, I’d get on his nerves, he’d get on mine, then we’d reach a compromise. Anyway, after our final tussle I unexpectedly started weeping like my heart would break. I hid in the stairwell for 10 minutes until I got a grip.

There was no way I was going to make my colleagues more upset. After using my quota of tears for the next five years, our editor Colin Myler asked Francesca Packer and I – who ran the subs’ tea club – if we’d give the reporters outside a cuppa each.

I slapped on a bit of lippy and stepped outside. And ended up giving a live interview to the world’s media. (Later, when I saw the pictures of a washed-out me that were beamed across the globe, I wanted to weep.)

There have been plenty of tears since. It’s not just a job I lost but a way of life. While most people were spending their Friday and Saturday nights with friends and family I was at work with my colleagues. I made huge personal sacrifices to be at the NoW, like everyone else did, but I thought it was worth it to be at a paper I was proud of with people I loved.

It feels like a bereavement. Overnight I’ve had my dear second family snatched away all at once and forever despite having done nothing wrong. And that’s enough to make anyone cry.

Hayley Barlow, PR manager

It’s Saturday … I update my Facebook status: ‘Thank you for the hundreds of special messages of support. Today is our final day in the News of the World office.”

A newsroom full of exceptionally talented journalists and staff will be producing the last historic edition of a great British institution. A dark day ahead and in the words of a colleague: ‘Never has so much been blamed on so many by so few.”

Emotions are extreme, gallows humour in full force, tear-stained faces everywhere and somehow, we have a newspaper to get out. The political editor threatens his entire department with the sack if they’re ever late for work again. The phone is in meltdown.

World’s media demanding to know what’s on our front page. I ask my editor. ‘Tell them we’re spoofing!’he laughs.

It is the toughest of days and suddenly it’s all over. The editor calls the troops to gather round. He clambers onto a desk and berates the chief feature writer whose tears have not stopped since Thursday: ‘Would you please stop crying, you’re a Northern lass for goodness sake.”

We laugh. He addresses his team one last time. We cry some more. Then the eerie sound of ‘banging out’ begins… one man and his blue plastic ruler. In single file we walk out of our office for the final time.

Three hundred people wait in reception for the editor to close the News of the World doors behind us. News InternationaI staff on higher floors stare down at us, fists pounding at their windows.

It’s hard to tell if they’re on our side or not. The noise is deafening. Finally he arrives, walking purposefully through the hoards and towards the waiting media scrum. I’m rooted to the spot. I can’t move. I don’t want to leave.

I love this newspaper. How did we ever get to this point? We tried so hard. Somebody grabs my hand. ‘It’s time Barlow,’he yells.

In a blaze of flashbulbs, applause and cheers and with tears streaming down our faces, we follow our editor out of the building. During 12 years at the News of the World, I have never felt so proud.

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