IN an attempt to appease disgruntled staff at The Sun following arrests of several staff in connection with phone hacking, News Corporation boss Rupert Murdoch launched Sun on Sunday. News Corporation closed down it’s previous Sunday title the News of the World 10 July 2011, following revelations of widespread hacking.
On it’s launch the Sun on Sunday was estimated to have sold 3.22 million copies. The News of the World in it’s final month in July had an average circulation of 2.6 million, a big increase for News International. The launch was supervised by Rupert Murdoch himself.
The paper was launched in the immediate aftermath of further arrests of Sun journalist. On Murdoch’s timing, Katherine Rushton the Daily Telegraph’s Media, telecoms and technology editor wrote in her column:
he is capitalising on public affection for the Sun and fears that it would meet the same fate as the News of the World. Politicians and commentators routinely attack Mr Murdoch’s stranglehold on the British media, but losing one of the country’s most robust tabloids is hardly going to boost plurality either.
The paper is edited by the current Sun editor Dominic Mohan. Mohan has been the editor of the Sun since 2009 when Rebekah Brookes moved up to become News International’s chief executive. Mohan began his career at the Sun when he started working on the Bizarre column at the paper in 1996. He is joined by Victoria Newton who worked as a Deputy Editor on the now defunct News of the World. Former News of the World political editor David Wooding also joined the Sun on Suday – assuming the same role as political editor.
But not everyone was impressed with the way The Sun has been parading around the launch of The Sun on Sunday as an exclusive. Liberal Democrat politician Dr Evan Harris was not impressed with the Sun’s “exclusive” on the launch of it’s new sister title the Sun on Sunday. He tweeted:
The Sun boasts that its “scoop” on Sun on Sunday launch is “another exclusive”. Tough investigative journalism clearly thriving at News Int
Prior to the launch Rupert Murdoch himself took to Twitter to boast of the impending first issue and the success of it’s advertising department. A huge contrast between the culmination of the News of the World, when many brands pulled their advertising and led to News International to offer free advertising to charities. Murdoch tweeted;
London Sun. Great staff tired but excited for Sunday edition. Yougov poll shows 90pc awareness already. Big announcements start tomorrow.
The news of the launch of the paper won’t have gone down too well on Merseyside. Where the Sun has been boycotted on a widepread scale, due to it’s distorted coverage of the Hillsborough disaster. The paper accused fans of Liverpool Football Club of picking victims pockets and beating up police. Emotions are still raw on Merseyside when it comes to the Hillsborough stadium disaster which saw 96 fans die. Families of the victims have demanded for justice through the Justice For The 96 campaign.
Following the latest hacking scandal, we, as Liverpool supporters, have a duty to keep the pressure up on Rupert Murdoch and his continued involvement with News International and more importantly the Sun newspaper.
We all know the lies this rag printed about our fellow Liverpool supporters after the Hillsborough disaster in April 1989.
The launch will also upset many who are campaigning for media ethics reform with the paper being launch in the midst of the Leveson inquiry triggered by revelations of widespread hacking at News of the World. As they believe that this would distract from Leveson. Labour MP Tom Watsonwas one of the politicians who got to grill Rupert Murdoch and his son James Murdoch at a committee last year. He has recently released a book called Dial M for Murdoch, in which he outlines wrongdoing by journalists at news International owned newspapers.
At the committee Murdoch was also targeted by a protestor who tried throwing a pie in his face. As revelations of widespread phone hacking began to emerge. Including the news that Milly Dowler’s mobile had also been hacked.
The first edition featured Amanda Holden on the front page and a lot of people criticised it for being weak. Roy Greenslade, professor of journalism at City University felt that the paper was too conservative saying, “it appeared unusually bland.”
Despite Rupert Murdoch and the Sun’s bullish mood, the paper has seen a huge fall in circulation. The paper lost 25% of sales in March, with circualtion figures sagging below that of the final month of the News of the World to 2.4 million – compared to the News of the World’s average of 2.6 in it’s final month.
Although it has to be noted that Murdoch (now a prolific tweeter, after joining the social networking site at the run of the year) did tweet that he’d be pleased with anything over the two million mark on launch in February.
The Sun: great speculation, sweeps, etc on Sunday’s sale. I will be very happy at anything substantially over two million!
So judging by his comments on Twitter he’s got to be pleased, but the drop in circulation will not have gone unnoticed by Murdoch, as he looks to rebuild his empire after taking a pummeling in recent months.