Last laugh? News of the World’s final crossword

The conditions of their surrender were clear: “no libels or any hidden mocking messages of the chief executive” Rebekah Brooks, in the final edition.

But these are News of the World employees we are talking about.

With the last rendition of the paper, “Thank You & Goodbye,” sitting on the copy desk, Brooks – the current chief executive of News International and former News of the World editor – recognized that the final issue of the 168-year-old British tabloid institution could be used as prime real estate for a proper lambasting.

“She brought in two very senior Sun journalists to go though every line on every page with a fine toothcomb,” a News of the World employee told the Daily Mail. “But they failed and we’ve had the last laugh.”

It took until the 47th page of the edition, but the roughly 200 journalists now out of a job as a result of the scandal did have the last laugh, splicing some “less than obvious” jibes in the paper’s crossword section.

Latent attacks resided in the final paper’s Quickie puzzle, with clues such as “Brook”, “stink”, “catastrophe” and “digital protection” alluding to Brook’s alleged involvement in the paper’s systematic hacking of the phone messages of murder and terrorists victims, politicians and celebrities. Police said last Thursday they had identified almost 4,000 potential targets of hacking.

Answers to the Quickie puzzle included “deplored”, “desist”, “disaster”, “menace”, “racket”, “stench” and “tart.”

Brooks has denied having any involvement or knowledge of the practice – which also included the regular bribing of police officers to get story tips – a claim her former employees denounce.

The choices for the Cryptic Crossword cut even closer to the bone, according to the Telegraph, with clues including: “criminal enterprise”, “mix in prison”, “string of recordings” and “will fear new security measure.”

One answer for the Cryptic Crossword, “firewall”, is assumed to be a reference to the staff being blocked from using the internet following the announcement of the paper’s closure, the Guardian said.

Although the future of the paper’s staff and financial impact of the closure remain uncertain, the final edition’s crossword page has forever immortalized the staff’s view of Brooks and what they consider to be her failure as the newspaper’s former editor.

About bmgottli

Benjamin Gottlieb is an investigative reporter, photographer and multimedia journalist based in Los Angeles, California. Growing up alongside highway 101 in Sherman Oaks, California, Gottlieb got his start in journalism as the assistant editor of his high school publication, the Knightly Times. Gottlieb received his B.A. in Global and International Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2009, with an emphasis on Middle Eastern socioeconomics and politics, and a minor in Multimedia Writing. During his time at UC Santa Barbara, Gottlieb spent three years as a staff reporter and news editor for his school’s daily newspaper, the Daily Nexus. Gottlieb took First Place for Best Feature Story of 2007 in the California College Media Awards for his piece detailing a weekend with the school’s Army Reserve Officer’s Training Corps. Gottlieb has interned at both the Santa Barbara Daily Sound and the award-winning alternative weekly, the Santa Barbara Independent. He remains a contributing writer for the Independent, and has published pieces on offshore drilling, prison reform and the 2009 California budget crisis. Gottlieb is currently a Director’s Scholar at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, pursuing a Masters of Arts in Online Journalism. He is also the senior news editor for USC Annenberg Digital News, a reporter for USC Annenberg Radio News and contributes to through the One Square Mile project, an experiment in hyper-local reporting.
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