News International is believed to be considering turning the weekday tabloid into a seven-day operation in the autumn following its decision to axe its 168-year-old flagship last weekend.
The Newcastle-based title backed up the warning with a page-one strap, placed next to a headshot of a deflated-looking Mr Murdoch.
In an inside comment piece, Matt wrote: “This newspaper has a proud reputation of fighting on behalf of the people of the North East and Cumbria. Our unrivalled news and sports coverage has helped us gain a reputation as a trusted brand across the region. We never act illegally and uphold the highest standards of ethics.
“We are part of the community and take our responsibilities seriously. What happened at the News of the World is totally unacceptable but it mustn’t be allowed to undermine the important job newspapers do up and down the land.
“However and whenever Rupert Murdoch decides to replace the paper he publishes for the last time today, we will be here.
“And our message is clear. There is only ONE trusted Sunday Sun – so keep your hands off.”
Other regional editors have echoed Matt’s message by using their leader columns to defend the good name of regional journalism in the wake of the phone hacking scandal.
Hull Daily Mail editor John Meehan wrote: “There is continual reference to “the press” as a catch-all for all newspapers, national and local. We’re not the same. Local and regional newspapers have nothing to do with this.
“We don’t hack phones, we don’t act illegally and we don’t hire private investigators.
“‘I think there will be a huge improvement in national newspaper ethics and working practices from this point. The closure of the News Of The World is just the start.”
Writing in the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, editor Paul Robertson said that people must not forget that regional newspapers are a force for good.
“It is hugely disappointing that, so far, few have drawn a distinction between the way most journalists operate and the culture which has been exposed at the News of the World,” he wrote.
‘I know of no regional or local newspapers that act in this way. Do we get things wrong? Yes.
‘The difference is we put them right through direct contact with complainants, correcting our errors in print and carrying your views on our coverage in letters and Feedback columns.”
- Read Steve Dyson’s blog tomorrow for a full review of last weekend’s Sunday Sun.