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The Week That Was: A Sunday Sun and Scotland

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No matter how many press releases you pen, how many interviews you give, or how much spin your experts can generate, sometimes there's no substitute for appearing in person, something Rupert Murdoch and David Cameron took to heart this week, flying into and out of London respectively to rouse the troops and go into battle for the things they hold dear.

For one, there's a newspaper and the reputation of his staff at stake, for the other, the future of the UK as we know it.

Cameron was first off the mark, making his latest move in the ongoing chess game between himself and Alex Salmond. You have to hand it to the pair, if the referendum really isn't going to take place until 2014, at least we are guaranteed plenty of photo ops, amusement and surprises along the way.

For the PM, alongside the somewhat predictable visit to a porridge factory (presumably the shortbread ones were closed for the day), the trump card was a promise to devolve more powers to the Scots if they decide not to choose full independence, no matter that the details were somewhat sketchy as to what exactly those powers might be.

Salmond just about brought himself to shake Cameron's hand for the cameras, although had the sound-bites (that word never more apt than in this case) ready and waiting as soon as Cameron got himself back onto English soil.

The catchiest so far? That an independent Scotland would be a "good world citizen", whatever that may mean. Although, if his subsequent interview with Sir David Frost is to be believed, apparently the frosty reception he gave Cameron isn't a sign of things to come.

"We'll continue to be the best of neighbours, the best of friends with all of the other countries in these islands," he told Frost.

Back in London, Murdoch - also a dab hand at a good photo opportunity, making sure the paps caught him en route to the paper's Wapping HQ with a copy of the Sun in hand and smile on his face - was in town to reiterate his support for his beleaguered newspaper, less than a week after five of his senior staff were arrested over alleged corrupt payments to public officials.

As well as promising to lift the suspensions of all staff who have been arrested but not charged "pending police investigations", Murdoch used his visit to announce the imminent launch of the Sun on Sunday (does 'the Sunday Sun' have a nicer ring? Let's see what the inevitable focus groups decide).

The announcement of a Sunday edition of the Sun is no great surprise, rumours of it started the same day it was announced the News of the World was folding, however, Murdoch finally confirmed the worst kept secret in British media in an email to staff on Friday.

Reaction was, perhaps surprisingly, overwhelmingly positive. An embattled British press seizing on the news as a sign that while Leveson rumbles on, and it seems everyone has an opinion on how the media should conduct itself moving forwards, there are still those willing to invest in its future.

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, gave the news his endorsement, claiming that while the industry "does face a lot of challenges", it is "pretty lean and fit" and remains "the strongest press in the world".

"OK, circulations have been going down in many cases," he noted. "But also in many instances, readership is going up because newspapers, journalists and editors are learning to make the news available on so many different platforms, and not just in print."

"People's appetite for news and information is growing, not dying; therefore, there are opportunities."

The National Union of Journalists wasn't quite so gung ho, accusing Murdoch of sending "mixed messages".

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stainstreet told the BBC: "I think it's sending out incredibly confusing messages to all of those affected and all of those who work there. They've either done something that warrants a serious police investigation and suspension from work or they haven't... Announcing [the Sun On Sunday] today was a deliberate attempt at a bit of a sop to journalists there to give them the sense that actually there is a future for them and for the newspaper here in the UK."

Mixed messages or not, the trip has been a darn sight more successful than Murdoch's last jaunt to these shores with shaving foam pies replaced by congratulatory Tweets.

The media industry may be down, but it certainly isn't out. The United Kingdom? Well, the jury's still out on that one.

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