'I worked the last night at the News of the World…'



In July, News International announced the closure of the News of the World after 168 years of business. It followed the latest in a long time of allegations over phone hacking by staff at the paper- this time in relation to murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Trainee Adam Thorn shares his experience of working in the newsroom on the last ever night.


I always wanted to be a News of the World reporter. People may have different views of it over the years, but every week it broke the stories that got the world talking.

I applied for their graduate trainee scheme in 2008, but got rejected, so I tried again the next year and managed to get through. I was on the scheme for two years, and it involved moving around different departments. I had finished working online.
 
Working for the paper for two years, I watched the phone hacking scandal as it erupted on the news. Everyone knew what had potentially happened in the past was very serious, but the allegations against Milly Dowler changed everything. This was the family of an innocent victim of crime and I, like everyone, felt devastated and angry at the news.

I will never forget the moment that I heard the paper was about to close. I just couldn’t quite believe it. Despite the seriousness of what happened, the truth is nobody ever thought they would shut down a newspaper that big. I wasn't in the office at the time and found out by phone call. I wasn't scheduled to be there on the last Saturday, but there was no way I could miss it.

The last night was surreal. Some people were in tears. Some said nothing. Others were just in shock. We were just trying to get a paper out.

There were television screens with Sky News on showing footage of a circling helicopter swooping above our office, and photographers were waiting at the gates for staff to arrive. Although, many of the snappers were actually stood outside the wrong building as we'd moved offices in late 2010.

Eventually they all made their way over and were welcomed, at one point, by tea and biscuits courtesy of our sub-editors. For many people that worked there, journalism was their life. And working for a paper as big as the News of the World was arguably what defined them. It was odd way for it all end.

As the last edition went to print, the editor, Colin Myler, addressed the staff. There's an old Fleet Street tradition where, when someone leaves, the remaining staff bang the tables as you walk out.

Colin decided that the entire staff would exit the building, while he was left on his own to 'bang' us out. It was incredibly touching to see him put the interests of everyone else before himself. Despite the disgusting nature of the allegations against the paper in the past, his action gave everyone a sense of pride.
 
Colin addressed the world's media waiting outside News International's front entrance on the edge of St Catherine's Dock. And then in that other great Fleet Street tradition, everyone headed to the pub.

There was plenty of gallows humour, as you'd expect, and rivalries were put to one side. As a journalist you live to break big stories yet, that night, we were the story. That was perhaps the most surreal thing of all.



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