Last night, Rupert Murdoch was in Broxbourne, about 40 minutes north of central London, to watch 3 million copies of the inaugural issue of The Sun on Sunday roll off the presses. Murdoch hopes the tabloid will fill the space once dominated by The News of the World, which was closed in the wake of last year’s phone-hacking scandal. Despite being given just days to pull the issue together, expectations were high, including that the paper would blast wide open the long-standing mystery of the Seventh Earl of Lucan who, in 1947, botched the murder of his wife (instead apparently bludgeoning to death his children’s nanny) before disappearing. Since about a week ago, the British media has been aflutter with rumors that Lord Lucan was in Africa; the Guardian had a tip that two Sun reporters even tracked him down to Botswana. Somewhat disappointingly, today’s launch did not contain the scoop of the century.
Instead, the SOS ran a cover interview with actress Amanda Holden about her traumatic birth scare: “My heart stopped for 40 seconds.” Naturally, sticking to Sun tradition, there’s also a topless photo of singer Kelly Rowland on page three — though she is “covering her modesty.” What’s perhaps garnering the most attention is an editorial promising that the SoS will uphold standards of journalistic “trust” and “decency,” clearly aimed at ongoing criticisms of Murdoch’s British newspapers. But not all are happy to see a more serious Sunday tabloid — speaking on the BBC, former Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie lamented, “personally I like sleaze on Sunday, so I feel slightly robbed.”