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This Sunday's News Of The World will be the last ever issue of the tabloid after News International chairman James Murdoch said "wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad".
The closing of the NOTW, which was launched in 1843, comes after a string of new allegations about the extent of phone hacking at the paper.
There is said to be great anger among staff - much of it directed at Rebekah Brooks, NI's chief executive and former NOTW editor.
Sky News understands workers at the tabloid were told she offered to resign last night, but she remains in her position.
NI has said Mrs Brooks did not offer to quit, although she did discuss her resignation with Mr Murdoch.
Also this evening, The Guardian reports Andy Coulson - also a former editor at the NOTW - will be arrested over suspicions he knew about, or had direct involvement in, phone hacking.
Mr Murdoch said the tabloid's final edition would not run any commercial adverts - with the advertising space to be donated to charities.
Sources said Mrs Brooks was tearful as NOTW employees were told about the decision to close this afternoon.
Both she and Mr Murdoch held a meeting this afternoon with senior executives, then addressed staff together.
Sources have said there was mass anger in the newsroom - all directed at Mrs Brooks.
The paper's editor Colin Myler was said to be absolutely furious and journalists were devastated.
Mr Myler, who has been the paper's editor since January 2007, said this was the "saddest day of my professional career".
"For 168 years the News Of The World has been a huge part of many people's lives," he said in a statement.
"Whatever price this staff are paying for past misdeeds, nothing should diminish everything this great newspaper has achieved."
Earlier, announcing the tabloid would fold after this weekend's edition, Mr Murdoch said it had been "sullied by behaviour that was wrong".
"Indeed, if recent allegations are true, it was inhuman and has no place in our company," he said in a statement.
"The News Of The World is in the business of holding others to account. But it failed when it came to itself."
The closing of the NOTW comes after a host of new allegations about how widespread phone hacking was at the tabloid.
The BBC claimed the parents of murdered Soham schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman could have been targets.
The Guardian reported murder victim Milly Dowler's phone was also accessed illegally.
Late on Thursday, Scotland Yard revealed up to 4,000 people may have been the target of phone hacking by Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator working for NOTW.
He and ex-NOTW royal editor Clive Goodman were jailed in January 2007 after the Old Bailey heard they plotted to hack into royal aides' telephone messages.
At the time, the newspaper and NI claimed phone hacking had been limited to "one rogue reporter".
But in his statement, Mr Murdoch admitted this was incorrect.
"We now have voluntarily given evidence to the police that I believe will prove that this was untrue and those who acted wrongly will have to face the consequences," he said.
However, anger toward Mrs Brooks - who was at the helm of NOTW when Milly Dowler's phone was allegedly hacked in 2002 - appeared to be mounting.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said Mrs Brooks "should go [and] take responsibility".
"One of the people who's remaining in her job is the chief executive of News International, who was the editor at the time of the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone," he said.
Former deputy prime minister Lord Prescott told Sky News: "They'll put the ordinary people out of work and not one of those senior people who are involved in this, including Rebekah Brooks... they never get sacked."
On Wednesday Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corporation - the parent company of NI - stood by Mrs Brooks .
His son also offered his backing, saying her leadership right now was "crucial".
"I am satisfied that Rebekah [and] her leadership of this business and her standard of ethics and her standard of conduct throughout her career are very good," James Murdoch said.