IF you’d told me a week ago that I would have spent Sunday morning desperately searching for a copy of the News of the World, I wouldn’t have believed you.
But there I was three days ago, going from paper shop to paper shop in Slaithwaite, trying to find the sleazy red top.
It wasn’t yet midday, but all three newsagent’s I visited had already sold out of the News of the World. I toyed with the idea of driving to Linthwaite to continue the search before I decided it was getting silly.
I’m a bit of a nerdy collector, and I have a sentimental streak, so I’m interested in buying the final edition of any newspaper – whether I liked the publication or not. As it was, I had to do without.
I know most people reading this will cry no tears for the demise of the News of the World after last week’s allegations that the paper hacked the phone of, among many others, murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.
It should go without saying that these actions were abhorrent.
But still, I take no joy in the demise of the News of the World. Yes it was sleazy, celebrity-obsessed and, at times, criminal.
But it had its good points. Some of the people the paper exposed were genuine wrong-doers who deserved everything they got. It was only last year that the paper broke the Pakistani cricket corruption story, for instance.
Most of all though, I feel sorry for the 200 News of the World journalists kicked out on the street by their incompetent managers.
The vast majority of these redundant staff – perhaps every last one of them – has never hacked a phone in their life. Most of them were not employed by the paper during the years of epic corruption.
And yet it’s them – not their managers – who are now on the dole.
One News International employee who is not clearing her desk is Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of the company and editor of the News of the World from 2000 to 2003 – the period covering, among many other things, the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone.
She still maintains she was ignorant of the industrial-level of illegal phone-hacking which occurred on her watch.
Perhaps we should take Mrs Brooks at her word. In which case she is an entirely honest and upstanding person. She must also be the most out-of-touch editor in the history of newspapers.
All those salacious stories about celebs and Royals pouring in, and Rebekah never thought to ask – even once – how her reporters were getting these tales? As management styles go, it’s distinctly hands-off.
She’s not the only one. Politicians, the police and other papers also have been distinctly hands-off about the phone-hacking scandal.
This story has been running for six years but it’s only with the awful allegations last week about intrusions into the grief of families of murder victims that the issue has finally got the attention it deserved.
Other papers – with one or two notable exceptions – all but ignored the phone-hacking story until last week.
The police, meanwhile, refused to reopen their phone-hacking investigation two years ago after new revelations came to light. It also appears that some officers in London were in the pay of News International.
And the politicians, well they were quite happy to ignore the issue and continue courting Mr Murdoch.
Again there are a few exceptions – like Labour backbenchers Chris Bryant and Tom Watson – who tried to keep the story alive. And now is perhaps the moment to tip our hats to long-term Murdoch critic and Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman.
But most of these men’s colleagues were happy to carry on with business as usual with News International.
Prime Minister David Cameron – having hired Andy Coulson after he resigned as News of the World editor – has more reason than most to fear what the future might bring.
There are interesting times ahead. This story will run for years to come, there are many more reputations to be ruined.
And, at the end of it all, politicians, police officers and national press men will be even less trusted than they are at the minute.
It’s hard to argue that they don’t deserve it.