Will we lament the passing of the News of the World?

There's a commonly-held belief that Rupert Murdoch plays politics with his newspapers.

Certainly his reach from London to New York to Sydney gives him an incredible influence over the conduct of politicians and voters across the world.

It is said, for instance, that whoever he decides to back in a British general election tends to win it and there is no doubt that courting Murdoch's favour can be beneficial to political fortune.

But the influence of the media is nothing new.

Two hundred years ago, Napoleon said: "I fear four newspapers more than a hundred thousand bayonets."

I was at an international conference recently and the common thread coming from delegates who discussed the news and media with me, having learnt that I worked in PR, was that the international community fears the British media more than any other.

Why is that the case? Is it purely down to Murdoch?

I don't think so.

The News of the World was, in my opinion, an incredible breaker of stories which set the international agenda, and that cannot all be down to alleged phone hacking.

The 'Fake Sheikh' was able to infiltrate some of the highest echeolons of society and create embarrassment within the establishment, although many argued that his 'victims' were set up rather than genuinely misbehaving.

But there were a range of other stories that shook the world and made it the biggest selling paper on the planet by the middle of the 20th Century including the Profumo affair and a range of other vice scandals that shamed those in positions of influence or power, to the alleged corruption featuring Pakistani cricketers last summer.

Of course it could be argued that the News of the World relied of chequebook journalism. It could invest more time, more resources and more focus on the investigations that rocked the world than most other papers put together.

But there were a great number of hugely talented journalists who worked on the paper, who are now out of a job and hoping that their names and reputations will not be tarnished by the actions of a few.

No one yet knows what exactly went on regarding the phone hacking that destroyed the News of the World. Who authorised it, who instigated it and who was harmed by it will come out in the fullness of time.

Was the brand toxic as News International's Rebekah Brooks, who has found herself in the eye of the storm, suggested when she annouced that the paper was to close after 168 years?

Perhaps, but as The Sun showed with its misguided criticism of Liverpool fans during the Hillsborough disaster, papers can survive.

Will the public or rival media be satisfied until senior News International executives are relieved of their duties? I doubt it. But the challenge for them will be whether they have the appetite, the energy and the drive to do unto News International what News International has done to others for decades.

Have we seen the last of the News of the World? I sincerely hope not. The brand may have been harmed but it could survive and be revived and rumours of conglomerates looking to do so have already been mooted.

But one thing's for sure.

British journalists will always be fearless, tenacious and determined to expose the wrongs that blight society.

The News of the World may not have been everything that was great about British journalism, but great journalists were drawn to working for the newspaper.

Amongst all the controversy and the vitriol, we have to remember that a tenacious and scrutinising media is the cornerstone of democracy.

Without it, where would we be?