Was closing News of the World overkill or appropriate? It’s hard to know. The public never really knows the full story. Was it a play to save a more lucrative deal with Sky? Possibly. Was it to send a strong signal to the UK public, government and investigators? Likely. Make no mistake: closing News of the World is a big deal. It’s a profitable newspaper with circulation upwards of 2.7 million. Not small numbers when you consider the struggle newspapers are under to maintain their circulation.
The problem with making a grand announcement is that questions remain as to the motivation, and at the centre of those questions is Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, the UK division of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. Why stand behind the editor who was at the helm during the time when all the unethical “reporting” took place? Why the media fanfare and show of force behind the editor who may have, at worst encouraged, at best ignored dirty tricks in the newsroom? Her newsroom; her responsibility.
During times of crisis, if a big gesture or game changer is determined as the best course of action, be sure it doesn’t generate more questions. Be clear about why something is happening. Show commitment to fixing the problem. Leave no question to your commitment to making sure justice is done.