Prolific Erik Wemple Blog commentator Geezer4 writes:
Has anyone, ever, said that The News of The World was a real newspaper? In my lifetime of almost eighty years it has always been a scandal sheet of the most outrageous kind. I didn’t think anyone believed anything written there, but bought it for its entertainment value. At any rate, it is no loss to anyone that it is closing
Strong point there, though the focus on News of the World’s “written” stuff miscasts the whole point of the publication.
Open up the News of the World site, and you’ll see that the publication isn’t about stories; it’s about pictures and videos. In this brilliant Web design, your mouse can’t wiggle its hips without bumping into clickable images. Clickable images, that is, of celebrities or other notables, preferably with at least a butt cheek exposed.
If News of the World was extreme to the point of illegality in its reporting methods, it was also extreme in plundering the Internet as a visual medium. Much as I and fellow journos like to think that our work has public value, we are all punks when compared to a good or even a bad photo gallery. Or a video.
News of the World’s visual sensibility worked. Though the Erik Wemple Blog will never trust self-reported Web-traffic figures from any outlet, much less one that hacked into people’s voicemails, we’re inclined to credit reports that the paper’s site killed it on Internet metrics. Back in April 2008, for instance, a story claimed that the tab’s site had scored nearly 3.7 unique users for the previous month. Not bad for a weekly. It followed up that performance with a big traffic-driver: Video of Formula One honcho Max Mosley with a group of prostitutes.
Again, the visuals!
Should News Corp. look to revive News of the World under some other title, it may close the book on illegal, intrusive and offensive reporting tactics. And open another chapter in the display of hotties wearing minimal clothing.