After 168 years and 8,674 editions, the News of the World said a ‘sad but very proud’farewell to readers today with the words: ‘Thank You & Goodbye”.
The final edition of the self-styled ‘World’s Greatest Newspaper’is largely a celebration of its best scoops and campaigns since its launch in 1843, and includes a 48-page souvenir pullout featuring some of the newspaper’s greatest splashes.
‘We lived through history, we recorded history and we made history – from the romance of our old hot-metal presses right through to the revolution of the digital age,’the paper said.
But there was also an apology for the phone-hacking scandal that engulfed the newspaper last week and led to News International chairman James Murdoch’s shock announcement on Thursday that today’s edition would be the last.
‘We praised high standards, we demanded high standards but, as we are now only too painfully aware, for a period of a few years up to 2006 some who worked for us, or in our name, fell shamefully short of those standards,’it said.
‘Quite simply, we lost our way. Phones were hacked, and for that this newspaper is truly sorry.
‘There is no justification for this appalling wrong-doing. No justification for the pain caused to victims, nor for the deep stain it has left on a great history.
‘Yet when this outrage has been atoned, we hope history will eventually judge us on all our years.
‘The staff of this paper, to a man and woman, are people of skill, dedication, honour and integrity bearing the pain for the past misdeeds of a few others.”
The newspaper said it welcomed Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement that public inquiries would be held into the police handling of the original phone-hacking case and the ethics and standards of the press – but defended under-fire press watchdog the Press Complaints Commission.
‘We do not agree that the Press Complaints Commission should be disbanded,” it said. “Self-regulation does work. But the current make-up of the PCC doesn’t work. It needs more powers and more resources. We do not need government legislation.
‘That would be a disaster for our democracy and for a free press.”
All profits from the final edition will be split between three charities: Barnardo’s, the Forces Children’s Trust, and military projects at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity.
Todya’s paper also features a piece written by campaigner Sara Payne in which she praises its work on Sarah’s Law, an article by investigations editor Mazher Mahmood detailing how the newspaper ‘saved children from paedos & nailed 250 evil crooks”, and a celebration of its greatest sports stories.
The newspaper has doubled the number of print copies being distributed today to five million today in anticipation that it will become a collector’s item.
It is also offering readers a free souvenir copy of the paper’s first edition published on Sunday October 1, 1843, along with a copy of today’s final edition.