Destroying the News of the World will not destroy the paper's sins. News International will only find absolution through true penitence. To do so, it must either let go of Rebekah Brooks or convenience her to step down.
Brooks is currently the chief executive officer of News International, the Rupert Murdoch-owned parent company of the News of the World tabloid. More importantly, she was the editor of NOTW during the time the paper was tapping the phone of missing teen Milly Dowler. As the head of the office, Brooks is ultimately responsible for the content and practices that come out of her newsroom.
The most serious allegations against the newspaper involve a private investigator hired to follow and track Dowler, celebrities and the families of victims of the 2005 London terrorist bombings. Brooks has claimed that she didn't know about the investigator or his illicit phone-hacking methods. But as the head editor, Brooks should have been consulting journalists about their sources and verifying facts.
If she wasn't on top of her reporters, Brooks was not doing her job. That itself is reason for termination.
Additionally, she fluidly placed the blame on her staff. She didn't just deny that she knew about the phone hacking, she said she was on vacation during the Dowler manhunt, effectively placing the guilt onto her employees and other editors.
The vacation story was also offensive, since the Dowler kidnapping and murder was a top story that consumed England for months in 2002. More importantly, the development of the story showed that the phone hacking was endemic of the News of the World, and they carried on with the practice for many years.
James Murdoch, who is chairman of NI and News Corporation's chief executive for Europe and Asia, said that wrongdoers turned a good newsroom bad and this was not fully understood or adequately pursued.
The Telegraph's blog editor, Damian Thompson, does not think that the pressures of Brooks' job have been alleviated at all by Murdoch's decision to close the paper for good, saying It may look as if the closure of the News of the World is all about saving the skin of Rebekah Brooks. ... Not so, as Ms Brooks will be uncomfortably aware. She has one main responsibility now, and it's not an enviable one: to act as a human shield for James Murdoch.
According to reports coming out of The Telegraph, the nearly 500-person staff at News of the World is largely blaming their former editor for the closure. Apparently, there were hateful words concerning Brooks flying at the soon-to-be shuttered office.
Additionally, there was a brief report that Brooks had written a letter of resignation, but it has not been confirmed. So far, Brooks has remained silent about the most recent events.
Shutting down the paper is probably for the best. Any news organization, any person, doing such terrible acts such as lying to the mother of a dead girl or peeping into the sorry of a slain soldier's family, needs to be reprimanded. But sometimes a crime needs a face, and luckily there is a redheaded one at the top of the ranks to point a finger at.