Ian Monk: NotW death is not the end for scandal

The mass circulation News of the World was felled by a newspaper with less than a tenth of its readership. Had it not died, allegedly of shame, it is a fair bet that the Sunday red top would have been selling millions for years ahead.

Ian Monk: NotW death is not the end for scandal
Ian Monk: NotW death is not the end for scandal

The Guardian, on the other hand, by its own admission is likely to run out of money far sooner.

Thus debates about media plurality run deeper and are more complex than simply being about how much Rupert Murdoch owns. Those glorying in Murdoch's setback should take out a lifelong Guardian subscription.

For the PR business the death of the NotW, part blessing, part curse, is hard to come to terms with. Reputation managers may cheer as the hunters become the hunted and pap hordes turn their intrusive lenses on Andy, Rebekah, James and Rupert. Yet it might be unwise to crow too loudly.

Public and Parliament alike were rightly and deeply revolted at the outrageous phone hacking. But until the full extent of its grotesque subterfuges were revealed, 7.5 million readers devoured the stories they yielded.

It is inconceivable that market forces will not shortly meet this prurient demand with the launch of a replacement Sunday red top.

Meanwhile other newspapers will find common cause with the spirit of the late departed NotW's claiming the interests of 'press freedom'. In future, increasingly tightly regulated newspapers will need to appear scrupulous about their methods.

However, the red top commercial model will continue to depend heavily on scandal - plus a measure of hypocrisy. Thus it will always pose challenges for those at the sharp end of reputation management.

For publicists, the loss of the NotW is unmitigated. It was simply the biggest, brashest platform on which to promote brands, acts and the modern phenomenon of celebrity.

Whether mourning or toasting its loss, just remember that the NotW's valedictory edition read more like an Oscar winner's acceptance speech than an obituary.

As with Jaws - 'just when you thought it was safe ...'

Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun.

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