Thursday, 7 July 2011

The News is Screwed


Founded in 1843, the News of the World has long dominated Sunday afternoon pub conversations. Printing headlines like “F1 Boss Has Sick Orgy with 5 Hookers,” “Fergie ‘Sells’ Andy for £500k” and “Ding Dong Immorally on High,” this was a paper that profited from naming and shaming.


The ongoing firestorm about the phone hacking scandal has finally culled a scalp. After major advertisers such as O2, Vauxhall, Boots and the government called time on their advertising contracts with the paper, the commercial future for the News of the World looked bleak but not many would have anticipated that Rupert Murdoch would kill off his golden goose.

The revelations about phone hacking were bad. When it was about celebrities like Sienna Miller and Lord Prescott, they were scandalous but not mortally damaging to the paper’s future. When it became about the families of bereaved servicemen, it became far more damning. The discovery that the phone of murder victim Millie Dowler had been hacked and messages from her parents deleted after her death dealt a killer blow. This was a newsroom that was shown to be one where rot reigned.

At 4.30pm today, the staff of the paper were called to a meeting where, accompanied by security, James Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive of News Corporation, and Rebekah Brooks, News International CEO and a former editor of the News of the World, announced that the last edition of the 168 year old paper would be printed this Sunday. The assembled were said to have been in tears and the paper’s editor, Colin Myler, it is claimed, was furious to have been given only 10 minutes notice of the decision.

Immediately news channels throughout the land cancelled all coverage of anything but this “breaking news.” Immediately the prey the paper had trounced came on air to get their revenge.  Max Moseley announced he was “rejoicing” whilst Lord Prescott added “This is a gimmick… There’s no doubt it will become the Sunday Sun.” Zac Goldsmith MP, whose own emails were hacked, stated “It’s sad and traumatic for a lot of people… But it’s a good day for Britain. The country after Sunday will be a better place.” I’m not so sure. Though they had bad apples, the News of the World was good at investigative journalism. Their approach got results even if their style was coarse. Who is in a position to take up that mantle?

Rebekah Brooks

Many will ask is it a case of “we made our excuses and left.”  Will more heads role yet? Rebekah Brooks is the main one in the firing line. Respected for having fought for ten years for “Sarah’s Law,” she now stands accused of taking an approach of “I’m staying but I’m shutting you down” but defends herself by stating it was “inconceivable” that she had known about what was happening over Milly Dowler’s voicemail. Brooks adds “I am aware of the speculation about my position. Therefore it is important you all know that as chief executive, I am determined to lead the company to ensure we do the right thing and resolve these serious issues.”

Tom Watson MP, a leading critic, of both Brooks and the paper responded “There are only two people left on the planet who want Rebekah Brooks to stay in her position and that’s David Cameron and Rupert Murdoch.” He is wrong. Brooks, I’d argue, is not the culprit here. Rogue journalists and a public hungry for sensationalised stories are the real problem. Blaming one woman is just too easy and frankly it is a disgraceful smokescreen that many so easily leap to.

 Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of News Corporation

Michael Wolff, author of The Man Who Owns the News, focuses instead on Rupert Murdoch himself commenting “He must be scared out of his wits” before pointedly adding: “Rupert Murdoch, a man who has never been vulnerable before, is now vulnerable and quite naked.” Like Citizen Kane, he suggests this is a man on the edge of losing not only his BSkyB bid but it all.

The News of the World was in the business of holding others to account. It sadly, though, as James Murdoch concluded, didn’t hold itself to account and now this once great institution has revealed its last screw.

The last edition of the News of the World will be published this Sunday. All proceeds will go to “deserving causes.”

For the full statements from Rupert Murdoch, Rebekah Brooks and Colin Myler see http://www.newsoftheworld.co.uk/notw/public/home

18 comments:

Tony Harrison said...

What's your view on Andy Coulson? Will he be moving to the clink?

Angela Clifton said...

We need utter culture change. It is just wrong how this was allowed to happen.

Charles Prest said...

I blame the Fake Sheikh for everything.

Matthew Steeples said...

I suggest readers take a look at this excellent analysis of the final edition of the News of the World at http://sandsmediaservices.blogspot.com/2011/07/ten-observations-about-todays-news-of.html

Matthew Steeples said...

This You Tube spoof is worth a view. It's very cleverly done: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtk3yLVUOKg&feature=player_embedded

usethebrainsgodgiveyou said...

Nice picture of Rebecca. Remind me, why is Rupie backing her up?

susan shannon said...

Hi Matthew,
Thanks for visiting my blog. I am returning the favor. Hello from America! Rupert Murdoch is only a front man in the total scam that is American news ownership. He is a distraction. There are actually six families and/or groups who have formed a cartel to control ALL the news: Fidelity Investments, The Vanguard Group, Capital Group Companies, Price (TROW) Group (though technically public, is actually private), and to a lesser extent Wellington Management Co. LLP and Dodge & Cox.

While I know he is also attempting a take over of British news, you need to investigate who owns British news besides him. ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, FOX & CBS are all owned by 6 private families. I have done an in depth study that proves a conspiracy between these families to create 'shell' companies and then use them to purchase ALL the controlling stock in the news. There is no other way to construe the data. Here are the 'shell' companies they use to do the purchasing:Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan (and Price TROW Association in a circular ownership scheme), State Street, BlackRock and Alliance Bernstein.

I would be very interested to know if these companies own your news as well, Matthew. Are you up for a little investigative research through the stock exchange? I'm not familiar with your news-I know about BBC, but there are probably others. Who owns Associated Press?It can be tricky. Sometimes the information is not easy to find. My article documents the relationship through several sources: The Stock exchange, wikipedia, corporation wiki, businessweek. Sometimes there are links that are considered private and some that are considered public. If you follow the breadcrumbs, however, you will probably find the same privately owned companies and people I have found.

If you take up the research, I would truly appreciate the results when you get them! I have a sinking feeling that you will find the same people.

Anonymous said...

Someone should make David Cameron resign. I blame him for this mess.

Anonymous said...

Rebekah Brooks is sexy!

Alec Baldwin said...

This is the best and most relevant piece I've read about the phone hacking scandal. You talk such sense Matthew.

Jim said...

How on earth can you defend Rebekah Brooks? Are you mad?

Anonymous said...

DAMN Rebekah Brooks is HOT!!

Anonymous said...

Rebekah Brooks is innocent. Leave her be.

Alan Hever said...

Bring back Rebekah Brooks. I think she's been unfairly blamed. David Cameron should not have betrayed her and the police are to blame for everything else.

Anonymous said...

You are sooooo full of it, Bub.

Gary Hazell said...

A well written account. Only issue is us Tax payers will be footing the bill again 'jobs for the boys' to investigate.The usual mayhem where the blind seem to lead the blind, the media shrug their shouldrs and the Politicians play musical chairs...where no one is accountable.

Anonymous said...

Just like the Roman Empire...corruption to the roots.

Sophie Phillips said...

When you wrote your piece about Lord Lucan why didn't you mention Rebekah Brooks? She's surely to blame for his disappearance as she gets blamed for everything else!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!