LONDON (AP) — Soon-to-be out of work journalists readied the last edition of Britain’s News of the World tabloid on Saturday, as Britain’s media establishment reeled from the burgeoning phone-hacking scandal that brought down the 168-year-old muckraking tabloid.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch will arrive in London on a scheduled visit Sunday, a person familiar with his itinerary told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Earlier, British media reports said Murdoch would arrive Saturday to deal with the scandal, which has rocked his media empire following allegations News of the World journalists paid police for information and hacked into the voicemails of young murder victims, celebrities and the grieving families of dead soldiers.
The 80-year-old Murdoch’s arrival is the same day that the News of the World’s final edition hits newsstands.
The paper’s editor, Colin Myler, was sullen as he made his way to the paper’s offices in east London.
“It’s a very sad day,” News of the World editor Colin Myler told reporters. “I’m thinking about my team of talented journalists.”
The revelations of the new allegations sparked a firestorm of outrage and saw the tabloid’s advertisers pull out en masse, prompting News International — a subsidiary of Murdoch’s News Corp. — to jettison the paper on Thursday in hopes of saving its $19 billion (12 billion pound) deal to take over satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting.
But the British government has signaled the deal would be delayed because of the crisis and the scandal has continued to unfold with the announcement of three arrests linked to the matter on Friday.
Andy Coulson — a former News of the World editor and ex-communications chief to Prime Minister David Cameron — was arrested Friday, as was Clive Goodman, an ex-News of the World royal reporter, and another unidentified 63-year-old man. All three have since been released on bail.
The developments have turned up the heat on Britain’s media industry amid concerns a police investigation won’t stop with the News of the World.
It has also cast new scrutiny on the cozy relationship between British politicians and the powerful Murdoch empire, putting the media baron’s company on the defensive.
Many journalists and media watchers have expressed astonishment that 43-year-old Rebekah Brooks, who was editor of News of the World when some of the hacking allegedly occurred, was keeping her job at head of News Corp.’s U.K. newspaper operations while the paper’s 200 employees were laid off.
Murdoch has opted to remain largely silent amid the fallout, issuing one statement that made clear Brooks would remain at the helm.
His son, James, has been the public face of the scandal — announcing the News of the World’s closure and acknowledging mistakes over the years in addressing indiscretions.
Cassandra Vinograd can be reached at http://twitter.com/CassVinograd