The ‘will it happen, won’t it happen’ debate over Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun on Sunday has been abruptly ended by the great man – it’s going to arrive this Sunday February 26th and he’s going to be in charge.
Rupert has always enjoyed inky fingers (in moderation), spending time as a very young man as a sub-editor on the Daily Express and making regular appearances in the newsroom at his various papers over the years.
So it’s not that much of a surprise that he’s taken personal charge of the launch although it’s not quite a case of Rupert mounting his white charger and riding to the rescue of the two hundred or so hacks who lost their jobs when the News of the World closed in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.
News International has been moving to a seven-day structure for some time according to insiders and the first issue issue of the Sun on Sunday will be produced by Sun staff under editor Dominic Mohan. This will be no mean achievement as the paper has been struggling since a number of senior journalists were arrested and suspended recently on suspicion of paying police.
But Murdoch cancelled the suspensions on Friday, which didn’t please the director of public prosecutions or the police. But the police, as far as we know, curtailed their recent habit of swooping on News International journalists’ homes in Saturday morning dawn raids this past weekend, so they seem to be playing the game too.
The surprise decision to go flying in with the Sun on Sunday is also a boost for Sir Martin Sorrell’s WPP in the UK, which has been charged with creating a ‘Team News’ for Murdoch’s UK papers’ £28m ad account.
WPP is supposed to be holding an internal pitch to decide which agency is going to be the core of Team News. Doesn’t look as though there’ll be time for that.
As for the paper itself, the likelihood is that it will major on sport, sport and more sport. News international’s traditional Sunday ‘investigations,’ once the preserve of the News of the World, may still be off the menu.
But you never know, with Murdoch in fighting mode.