- Associated Press - Saturday, July 9, 2011

LONDON (AP) — Soon-to-be out of work journalists readied the last edition of Britain’s News of the World tabloid on Saturday, as Britain’s media establishment reeled from the burgeoning phone-hacking scandal that brought down the 168-year-old muckraking tabloid.

Rupert Murdoch, whose media empire owns the paper, will arrive in London on a scheduled visit Sunday, a person familiar with his itinerary told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The 80-year-old will arrive on the same day that the News of the World’s final edition hits newsstands. Murdoch’s News International shut it down following allegations the paper’s journalists paid police for information and hacked into the voicemails of young murder victims, celebrities and the grieving families of dead soldiers.

The paper’s editor, Colin Myler, was sullen as he made his way to the paper’s offices in east London.

“It’s a very sad day,” he said. “I’m thinking about my team of talented journalists.”

Images released to Sky News of the preparations in the tabloid’s London headquarters appeared to show a newsroom like any other, full of journalists tapping away at screens.

Small clues gave the tone of the day away — from a commemorative T-Shirt bearing a “Goodbye, cruel News of the World, I’m leaving you today” worn by one staffer, to editors fitting tributes to the tabloid’s journalistic victories into newspaper text boxes.

The revelations of the new allegations sparked a firestorm of outrage and saw the tabloid’s advertisers pull out en masse, prompting News International — a subsidiary of Murdoch’s News Corp. — to jettison the paper on Thursday in hopes of saving its 12 billion-pound ($19 billion) deal to take over satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting.

But the British government has signaled that deal will be delayed because of the crisis and the scandal has continued to unfold with the announcement of three arrests linked to the matter on Friday.

Andy Coulson — a former News of the World editor and ex-communications chief to Prime Minister David Cameron — was arrested Friday, as was Clive Goodman, an ex-News of the World royal reporter, and an unidentified 63-year-old man. All three have since been released on bail.

The developments have turned up the heat on Britain’s media industry amid concerns a police investigation won’t stop with the News of the World.

It has also cast new scrutiny on the cozy relationship between British politicians and the powerful Murdoch empire, putting the media baron’s company on the defensive.

Many journalists and media watchers have expressed astonishment that Rebekah Brooks, who was editor of News of the World when some of the hacking allegedly occurred, was keeping her job at head of News Corp.’s U.K. newspaper operations while the paper’s 200 employees were laid off.

Upping the ante, the Church of England threatened to pull nearly 4 million pounds of investments from News Corp. “if does not hold senior executives to account … for the gross failures of management at the News of the World.”

The church’s ethical investment advisory group said Sunday it wrote to News Corp. saying closing News of the World was not a “sufficient response” to the “utterly reprehensible and unethical” practices uncovered at the tabloid.

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