In a startling move today, News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch announced he would shut down Britain's best-selling Sunday newspaper, the 168-year-old tabloid News of the World, in the wake of a phone-hacking scandal in which a private investigator reportedly accessed the voicemail of a 13-year-old missing girl later found slain and deleted messages. Not that Murdoch doesn't have other publications to fall back on -- News Corp. owns the Times of London and The Sun tabloid -- but as public outrage grew and advertisers left it was deemed that the environment was too toxic for the News of the World to remain. The statement from Murdoch:
"Recent allegations of phone hacking and making payments to police with respect to the News of the World are deplorable and unacceptable.
I have made clear that our company must fully and proactively cooperate with the police in all investigations and that is exactly what News International has been doing and will continue to do under Rebekah Brooks' leadership.
We are committed to addressing these issues fully and have taken a number of important steps to prevent them from happening again."
Editor Colin Myer also issued a statement that addressed how probes continue into years of potential mobile phone hacking:
"I know you will be as appalled as I am by claims that a private investigator working for the News of the World intercepted the voicemails of Milly Dowler, victims of the 7/7 atrocity and others.
We are urgently trying to establish the truth of these allegations which, if proved, would amount to the most unimaginable breach of journalistic ethics.
Understandably, there is a great deal of anger directed towards this newspaper as a result of what happened in some cases as far back as nine years ago.
While this is unfair and extremely upsetting for all of you who had nothing to do with these activities, we have to accept and deal with those criticisms."
The last issue of News of the World will be published Sunday. Reuters has an excellent roundup of reaction, including experts who are "completely gobsmacked" about the "nuclear option" that's putting 200 newspaper staffers out of work.
MORE: The British tabloids
(Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)