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News of the World’s final issue references Orwell

On Friday night, I was back home in the UK when the news broke that the News of the World was being shut down because of the phone hacking scandal. It was a huge story. This newspaper has been around since 1843. It sold millions of copies each Sunday and had a huge influence on British life.

The News of the Screws was the tabloid’s tabloid and yet its final issue featured George Orwell and had a literary flavour. The newspaper’s farewell editorial featured a quote from Orwell’s Decline of the English Murder essay from 1946.

“It is Sunday afternoon, preferably before the war. The wife is already asleep in the armchair, and the children have been sent out for a nice long walk. You put your feet up on the sofa, settle your spectacles on your nose and open the News of the World.”

A lot of people think the Orwell reference was rather misplaced considering that the paper has been accused of – hacking into the phones of as many as 4,000 people including the parents of murdered children and fallen soldiers. Phone hacking is a little too like Big Brother for most people.

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