Irish staff on Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World, devastated when they learned via Sky television and internal emails that their paper was closing three days later last Sunday, will be individually informed over the next two weeks of the intentions of management.
All are on full pay -- branded gardening pay -- for the next three months. But many of the 22 full-time and 10 part-time Dublin staff fear they will lose their jobs.
Despite speculation that the paper would be re-branded, employees have not been informed about plans to launch a new title, such as the rumored Sun on Sunday.
Last Friday, letters were sent out informing employees that they were under threat of redundancy.
The Irish title, edited by Geoffrey Frazer, from Banbridge in Co. Down, had a circulation of around 120,000 in recent months. Columnists include hurling legend DJ Carey and former Irish soccer player Kevin Moran.
Former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern was signed in 2009 to write a weekly sports column. The column finished in February of this year.
Top Irish crime writer Paul Williams was reported to be Ireland’s most highly-paid print reporter on €250,000 a year after he moved to the News of the World from the Sunday World some years ago.
It is the third Sunday paper to disappear from the Irish market this year following the closure of the Sunday Tribune and the Star on Sunday.
Seamus Dooley, Irish secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said the closure by email was “particularly shocking” and characterized the contempt with which staff were treated.
He said Irish journalists were being asked to pay the price for the behavior of an “unethical elite” in London. They were not part of this behavior and were “collateral damage”.
The Dublin News of the World folded, along with the main U.K. edition, in a scandal over phone-tapping by News of the World journalists and financial bribes to police for information when Andy Coulson was editor. Coulson, who has been quizzed by police, later became main media advisor to British Prime Minister David Cameron but resigned earlier this year.
Public furor in Britain over the hacking really erupted after it emerged murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone was hacked when Rebekah Brooks was editor. Brooks, who denied any knowledge of hacking, is now Murdoch’s chief in the U.K., along with his son James.
This week the scandal spread to other Murdoch U.K. publications, The Sun and The Sunday Times, both of which also print in Ireland, and his News Corporation’s controversial attempt to buy the remainder of the 61% shares in multi-billion dollar BSkyB was referred by the British government to the Competition Commission, putting it back at least a year.