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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 20, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

    Thank you and hello: The Sun rises for a seventh day

    Laura Slattery

    “This is not the weather forecast…” reads the front-page Sun “exclusive” this morning as it promises that there will be an Irish Sun next Sunday. Actually it reads “THIS IS NOT THE WEATHER FORECAST… IRISH SUN NEXT SUNDAY”, to be more precise. Rupert Murdoch and his lieutenants are doing what nobody except News International and passing Russian oligarchs would contemplate these days: they’re launching a printed newspaper.

    Notwithstanding the double-digit circulation declines in the UK Sunday newspaper market – and glossing over for one moment the fact that nine current and former Sun journalists have been arrested in connection with alleged illegal payments to public officials – Murdoch’s manoevre is not all that bizarre (no pun intended).

    While the speedy demise of the News of the World last July took thousands of readers out of the market, if any publication can recapture it, it’s likely to be the Sun on Sunday – though not, perhaps, in Liverpool. For all the public opprobrium, readers never got a chance last summer to prove they were serious about boycotting the News of the World, and in any case the shared parentage of the Sun seems unlikely to prove a problem for most readers seven months on.

    Maintaining a seven-day operation at the Sun is also likely to prove substantially cheaper on labour costs than the old Sun / News of the World system, which is why rumours of a seven-day Sun were circulating long before the Guardian published its story on the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone. Even if it’s not a commercial success, it has already achieved an instant public relations goal for Murdoch, allowing him to  ”move the story on” from last week’s narrative of civil war and crumbling empires.

    So is the arrival of the Sun on Sunday a good thing? Ever since the idea was floated that the weekday Sun might go the way of the News of the World, people employed elsewhere in the media (and bet-hedging politicians) have been happy to declare that the loss of another newspaper – yes, even one that brought us “WHITNEY’S DEATH BATH” – would not be in the public interest. It would even be bad for democracy, given how much “good campaigning journalism” was apparently squeezed in between the breasts.

     Such intra-industry solidarity was too much for one Guardian feature writer, who tweeted, “to all those saying it’s either the Sun or Pravda: come off it”. Indeed. Democracy, I’m guessing, would muddle along pretty much the same with one less Murdoch newspaper. If anything, ”the moment of evangelical release” in the House of Commons last summer - as Hacked Off campaign founder Brian Cathcart phrased it – suggested that a weaker Murdoch would probably be a good thing for British democracy.

    The launch of the Sun on Sunday means it’s pretty much a case of “as you were”. As for Rupert himself, his one tweet on the arrival of his latest print baby was this: “Just for the record: Newscorp shares up 60c on news of Sun on Sunday. Highest for year.”

    Phew, eh.

    • jaygee says:

      As if that wasn’t Murdoch’s intention the moment he closed the NOW. The man should have been nominated for the Oscars after his performance in front of the British MPs. THe whole event was a master class in acting and as for the beautifully timed custard pie incident with the gallant wife coming to the rescue…….well!

      I’ve no doubt the deprived former readers of the NOW with their taste for salacious gossip will be well served in the new rag, and I’m sure Murdoch’s bank balance will continue to expand.

    • Michael O'Donnell says:

      Press solidarity is not just a British phenomenon. How many in the Irish media congratulated the judiciary over the award to Monica Leach? Let those who live in glass houses…

    • John O'Driscoll says:

      ”The press is overstepping in every direction the obvious bounds of propriety and decency. Gossip is no longer the resource of the idle and the vicious, but has become a trade, which is pursued with industry as well as effrontery. To satisfy a prurient taste the details of sexual relations are spread broadcast in the columns of the daily papers. To occupy the indolent, column upon column is filled with idle gossip, which can only be procured by intrusion upon the domestic circle. The intensity and complexity of life, attendant upon advancing civilisation, have rendered necessary some retreat from the world, and man, under the refining influence of culture, has become more sensitive to publicity, so that solitude and privacy have become more essential to the individual; but modern enterprise and invention have, through invasions upon his privacy, subjected him to mental pain and distress, far greater than could be inflicted by mere bodily injury. Nor is the harm wrought by such invasions confined to the suffering of those who may be the subjects of journalistic or other enterprise. In this, as in other branches of commerce, the supply creates the demand. Each crop of unseemly gossip, thus harvested, becomes the seed of more, and, in direct proportion to its circulation, results in the lowering of social standards and of morality. Even gossip apparently harmless, when widely and persistently circulated, is potent for evil. It both belittles and perverts. It belittles by inverting the relative importance of things, thus dwarfing the thoughts and aspirations of a people. When personal gossip attains the dignity of print, and crowds the space available for matters of real interest to the community, what wonder that the ignorant and thoughtless mistake its relative importance. Easy of comprehension, appealing to that weak side of human nature which is never wholly cast down by the misfortunes and frailties of our neighbours, no one can be surprised that it usurps the place of interest in brains capable of other things. Triviality desroys at once the robustness of thought and delicacy of feeling. No enthusiasm can flourish, no generous impulse can survive its blighting influence.”

      Written in 1890 by Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis of the US Supreme Court.

      Anyway. Nothing new under the Sun as the Good Book sayeth.

    • John O'Driscoll says:

      The Sun it might seem hs done quite a bit to melt the wax in the Met’s wings not to mention the Tories’. Unlike other Sols its light is corrupting. And now its out on Sundays too we’re told God rested on the seventh day clearly Others don’t.

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